Auckland restaurant worker claims exploitation, says forced to work to point of collapse

An Auckland restaurant worker says she was forced to work overtime, and even made to work after she collapsed on the job.

The 23-year-old from India says she felt she had to put up with it because she feared if she quit, she would lose her work visa.

The woman says her contract at the restaurant stated she'd work 30 hours a week over five days.

But she says she consistently worked seven days without any extra pay, and when she factored in the extra time, she was getting much less than the minimum wage.

She says she was working 60-70 hours a week, at just $7 an hour.

Her employer, Puran Singh at Curry Leaf Indian restaurant in Pukekohe, denies any wrongdoing.

He originally claimed the woman only worked her contracted hours, but later admitted that the complainant did sometimes work longer.

"Sometimes it was up down, up down," he said.

  • If you have further information, or have been a victim of exploitation in the workplace, contact Michael Morrah

Mr Singh says she was paid for extra time, but bank statements seen by Newshub show the same amount of $407 going into her account every week. 

The worker also claims when she fainted at work and got a medical certificate to take a day off, "he refused that one and just made me work". 

The complainant, a visitor from India, was scared that if she quit she would lose her work visa. In the end she sought help from her union.

First Union National Organiser Bill Bradford told Newshub she's an example of a "very vulnerable young person".

"She's a long way from her home, [from] her parents, from any support and all the time hanging over her is that threat that 'you will lose your work visa if you don't do as you're told'. It's terrible."

The worker's claims are backed by a former colleague who agrees she did work seven days a week.

The complainant is no longer at the restaurant. After trying to take a day off sick, she says she was dismissed with less than a week's notice.

But her employer says she was unreliable, and behaved badly towards her colleagues and the customers. He also says he paid for her accomodation and food.