Immigration Minister Erica Stanford expects investigation after allegations of underpaid Indian security workers

The new Immigration Minister Erica Stanford says she expects officials to investigate after Newshub revealed disturbing allegations of underpaid Indian security workers.

The workers also claim they paid thousands to overseas agents to get work visas here.

Stanford says she's now considering law changes to the visa they entered the country on.

Chetan Kumar isn't shy about flaunting his luxury rides. He was filmed driving in a yellow Lamborghini on the Auckland motorway, where he featured in a 2019 promotional video for an Indian rap star.

While Kumar, the director of security firm S.E.A.L Security, appears cashed up, his workers say it's been the opposite for them.

In fact, they say they were underpaid.

"I ask him many times 'Just pay me as per my contract', but he did nothing and didn't pay me as per my contract," one worker told Newshub.

Piha freelance film designer Gavin McLean first met the men in March, standing in the rain with no toilets or shelter doing security work at road closures.

"I couldn't stand there and do nothing," McLean explained.

He brought them food, tea, organised portaloos and helped them contact a union.

"Some have been near to tears discussing the breach of contract, the treatment by S.E.A.L Security," he said.

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The men also claim they paid thousands to overseas agents. Newshub has audio of an agent discussing S.E.A.L Security and asking a worker's family member for thousands.

Migrant Workers Association representative Anu Kaloti said the agent tells the family member to put the money into three different bank accounts.

"The potential client or the migrant worker's family member was being asked to deposit or hand over in cash around $40,000 which is horrific," she said.

The Immigration Minister Erica Stanford wants officials to investigate.

"My expectation after the story is that certainly if there wasn't something already underway, then there will be now."

Kumar denies knowledge of thousands being paid to agents and denies underpaying the men. But he admitted deducting wages for things like lawyer fees, immigration fees, rent and uniforms.

Kumar said these deductions were agreed to verbally with the workers, which the workers deny. Nothing was put in writing.

Immigration Minister Erica Stanford expects investigation after allegations of underpaid Indian security workers
Photo credit: Supplied

However, the Labour Inspectorate says legislation is clear when it comes to wages.

"Employers can deduct where it is required by law, or the deduction is for a lawful purpose. Written consent is required," said head of compliance and enforcement Simon Humphries.

The men came here on the poorly-monitored Accredited Employer Work Visa.

A review into this visa category is due next month. So far, 130 employers have had their accreditation revoked, 42 had it suspended and there are 174 investigations.

Immigration Minister Erica Stanford said she's considering law changes.

"I think that there are some parts of the policy that we can change and tighten and that is the advice I've asked for."

It's talk of big changes to policy settings to try and halt misery like this latest case of alleged exploitation.