Super Liquor terminates franchisees after workers exploited

One of the country's biggest liquor suppliers has started a review after having to terminate multiple franchise licences over workers being exploited.

Newshub has learned that nine different Super Liquor outlets have been the subject of Labour Inspector investigations in the past two years. 

Mt Albert Super Liquor is one of 178 stores around the country.

The owner Bhushan Bansal is accused of underpaying staff over many years. But he says he's "100 percent sure" he hasn't been underpaying.

Super Liquor chief executive Campbell McMahon doesn't accept the owner's explanation.

"Following our investigation, we've terminated that franchisee for fundamental breaches of their employment obligations," McMahon told Newshub.

Some workers say they were paid a pittance. One says his boss gave him just $6 an hour when he started seven years ago. 

"He started with $6 an hour and I told him it's not right because it's $13.50 - and he said, 'No, this is the market price over here'." 

When asked how much money he thought he was owed, he said it was "approximately $250,000".

The other worker says he started on $8 an hour. He was also instructed to pay back part of his pay. 

If you have more information contact Michael Morrah at

"Every fortnight I was giving back money," he told Newshub. "I felt so bad but I was helpless."

McMahon says the situation is shocking.

"Personally I'm appalled at this situation."

Since 2017, the Labour Inspectorate says it's investigated nine different Super Liquor stores. 

Newshub last year revealed allegations that the manager at a South Auckland store was paying his worker just $7 an hour. 

Another St Heliers based Super Liquor outlet recently had its franchise licence terminated, again over claims of workers being exploited. 

Worker representatives say Super Liquor needs to properly monitor its franchisees. 

"It looks like it's been convenient for them to just overlook and ignore. Absolutely right that they're not doing enough," said Anu Kaloti from the Migrant Workers Association.

Super Liquor says it does do background checks on franchisee applicants - but it's now reviewing its systems and won't rule out spot checks on outlets. 

"Again, that will be something that is part of our review and engaging with the Labour Inspectorate. We'll be assessing that and a range of other opportunities," said McMahon.

The men say it's time the company stepped up, as they're aware of many others also being underpaid.