Thirsty Liquor Tokoroa loses alcohol license after continual labour law breaches

Thirsty Liquor Tokoroa.
Thirsty Liquor Tokoroa. Photo credit: Google Maps

Thirsty Liquor Tokoroa's liquor license has been rejected by the South Waikato District Licensing Committee following consistent breaches of labour laws.

Several different parties objected to its licensing renewal, while evidence was presented by the Labour Inspectorate.

The Inspector brought to light "systemic non-compliance" with employment laws by the liquor franchise over five years.

This included inadequate record-keeping, staff rostering, staff welfare breaks and lack of payment for hours worked, holiday pay and the taking of holidays, providing no formal training for employees, requiring them to work long shifts alone and without rest or meal breaks.

The owners and brothers, Taranjeet and Jaspreet Singh Janda, were issued an improvement notice requiring them to fix these breaches but failed to do this. They were granted two extensions to do this.

In June 2020, Stuff reported three former employees of Liquor Empire, owned by the brothers, claimed they were owed more than $400,000 in wages after being paid less than $8 an hour for 90 hours work a week.

The Janda brothers own Thirsty Liquor franchises in Hamilton, Rotorua and Tokoroa. They also own a Hamilton mini-mart and Tokoroa's Trees Tavern pub and Black Bull liquor store.

They were forced to sell a Four Square supermarket in Tokoroa after complaints of exploitation, Stuff reports.

The Labour Inspectorate, part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, began investigating Two Brothers last year after receiving a complaint against a former employee about minimum employment standards.

Labour Inspectorate retail sector strategy lead Loua Ward said they were pleased with the outcome of the application.

"It is unacceptable for employers to continually and intentionally breach employment law, undermining employees' rights and undercutting other businesses in the industry," Ward said.

This wasn't the only reason the license renewal was declined.

The Committee said these conditions would put employees at risk of fatigue, which would impair their decision-making abilities such as identifying minors and intoxicated people, whom it's illegal to sell alcohol to under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.

A decision of this kind is a first for the committee. An alcohol license has never been rejected on the grounds of mistreatment of employees.

In a similar case in 2016, a Judge ruled that consistent violations of labor law by an alcoholic beverage group in south Auckland did not affect its ability to provide alcohol responsibly and safely.