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Indian migrant worker says he's owed $80,000 from bottle shop employer

Manjinder Singh says his employer has been paying him less than half of minimum wage.


A liquor shop owner will be investigated by the Labour Inspectorate for allegedly owing more than $80,000 in unpaid wages to a former employee. 

Manjinder Singh moved to New Zealand about three and a half years ago from India. 

The Bottle-O on Pt Chevalier Rd is owned by Ravinder Kumar Arora.

In March 2014 he began working at Bottle-O liquor shop in Auckland's Pt Chevalier, which is owned by Ravinder Kumar Arora.

In 2014 Arora was investigated by the Labour Inspectorate and ordered to pay more than $30,000 in arrears to employees for breaching minimum employment standards. 

Singh said during his time employed by Arora he was paid $7 an hour. Adult minimum wage in New Zealand is $15.75.

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The Labour Inspectorate said it had received a complaint and would be investigating the matter.

Singh said he approached Unite Union for advice and support.

"I worked for two months for free on a trial, and then after two weeks he held my pay," Singh said.

Singh claimed Arora told him he'd cancel Singh's working visa and that he'd be deported back to India if he didn't work at the bottle store.

Singh said he was paid $432.51 a week, the equivalent to about 30 hours on minimum wage, which was written in his contract.

However, in order for him to be paid that amount, he'd have to work at least 62 hours.

Any additional hours he worked after that he would be paid $7 an hour in cash, Singh said.

Two months ago Singh quit his job. He said he was hoping to return to India to be with his mother and sister. 

"I feel very angry, he made me work like a slave for such a long time."

Since working at Bottle-O Singh had been diagnosed with depression, he said.

Arora is listed as the directed of Nikhil Himalaya Point Chev. He is also listed as the director of 23 other companies.

Bottle-O head office would not answer questions relating to an individual franchise.

Arora's lawyer said he would not comment.

A Labour Inspectorate spokeswoman said it investigated Arora in relation to eight of his companies following a complaint in July 2014, which found he failed to provide correct holiday pay, employment agreements, or keep compliant records of employment.

A follow up audit by the Inspectorate in 2015 confirmed Arora had introduced systems to ensure minimum employment standards were being met, she said.

If any employees were concerned their employment rights were not being met they should to contact the Inspectorate, she said.

A small group of Singh's supporters protested outside the Bottle-O shop on Wednesday afternoon.

Employers that breach minimum employment standards can face penalties of $50,000 for individuals, per breach, or $100,000 for companies, per breach.

Stuff

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