FIRST Union is calling for criminal penalties against the directors of companies who use migrant workers as "slave" labour.
Auckland restaurant chain Masala has been fined twice in the space of a week for denying employees the minimum wage and holiday pay.
CK Hospitality, trading as Masala Indian Restaurant, has gone into liquidation after being fined tens of thousands of dollars. FIRST Union migrant workers organiser Dennis Maga says it's a strategy used by many exploitative companies to avoid responsibility.
"Don't be surprised if ever you see the Masala chain, that this is owned by a 'new' company or new ownership," he told TV3's Paul Henry programme this morning.
"That is a strategy being used right now by [offending] companies, because they would like to escape from legal obligations by voluntary liquidation."
Masala was found to be paying migrant workers working 60 to 70 hours a week as little as $4 an hour.
"That's the reason why we want the Government to take an active role here by amending the law," says Mr Maga.
"New and recent migrants, some of them are quite desperate to find a job – especially those who are on a student visa. Some businesses owned by former immigrants themselves are exploiting this condition. They're using their status in the community, they're using their businesses to attract these workers and basically exploit them."
Mr Maga and FIRST are calling for criminal penalties as stiff as seven years in jail or $100,000 fines for dodgy employers – possibly even deportation for immigrants exploiting their newly arrived countrymen and women.
"These directors remain unpunished."
source: newshub archive