Indian National in New Zealand Sentenced for Exploiting Migrant Workers
An Indian business owner in New Zealand has been convicted for forcing migrant workers to work longer, holding their payments, violating holiday-related rules and abetting or aiding the employees in breach of their temporary visa conditions.
An Indian business owner in New Zealand has been sentenced for exploiting 12 immigrant workers from India by forcing them to work for long hours, holding their payments and compelling a worker to do cooking and cleaning in his house. He also helped or encouraged these workers in breaching their visa norms.
Davinder Singh, whose company Kishan Singh & Son’s Ltd. owned Pizza Hut franchises in Gore, Richmond, Blenheim and Nelson, was sentenced at the Nelson District Court to nine months’ home detention, 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay $150,000 in victim reparation, Immigration New Zealand said.
Singh, 30, was convicted under the Immigration Act on 25 charges of exploiting 12 Indian nationals, who were in New Zealand on their work or student visas. He was convicted for paying these immigrants less than the minimum wage, forcing them to work long hours, refusing to provide time off or issue pay-slips and exploiting the employee/employer relationship.
Singh, who has been living in New Zealand for 13 years, was also convicted on 13 charges of aiding and abetting employees to breach conditions of their temporary visas.
Singh encouraged student visa holder employees to work more than the 20 hours a week that their visas allowed but didn’t pay them for more than 20 hours a week. Those on work visas worked 45-60 hours regularly for him but were paid only for 40 hours work a week.
Singh also committed breaches of Holidays Act and Minimum Wage Act, which included forcing one employee to work seven days a week without giving him any sick leave, holiday pay, overtime or days in lieu for public holidays worked.
Other than this violation, Singh also made an employee cook and clean for him and his family. Another employee was waiting to get his outstanding pay of around $65,000.
Delivering the sentence, Judge Zohrab said Singh had a “revisionist approach.”
He said, “You seem to have rewritten history, and persuaded yourself that you are the victim, and your parents are victims, you were an accidental offender. I do not accept that for one minute. I appreciate a sentence of home detention, coupled with community work, will be difficult for you – but it might give you some insight as to what unpaid labor is actually like.”
Peter Devoy, Immigration New Zealand Assistant General Manager, said that migrants are a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce because they may not be aware of their rights and entitlements, in comparison to New Zealand workers. He also said that they can hesitate to come forward, particularly where they are in breach of their visa conditions.
“The systematic and protracted pattern of migrant exploitation by this defendant is abhorrent,” Devoy said. “This sentence of home detention and community work coupled with the $150,000 in victim reparation should send a strong signal that we will take action against employers who exploit migrants. I hope the victims can take some comfort in this outcome.”
Devoy also urged people to come forward without any fear. “Migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand and we treat migrants fairly when they come forward about genuine exploitation. We encourage anyone being forced to work in New Zealand illegally for less than the minimum wage and/or excessive hours to contact Immigration New Zealand or the Labor Inspectorate,” he said.