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Liquor workers win backpay

Last updated 12:54 26/03/2014

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A liquor store owner has been forced to pay 11 migrant workers nearly $100,000 in owed wages but has been unable to pay all his fines.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said today that last year the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found that the Auckland companies that operate Civic Convenience, Symonds Liquor and Sky Liquor, all owned by Ala'a Bader of Ponsonby, underpaid staff, most of whom were fellow Indians in New Zealand for education.

Bader was ordered to pay fines of $60,000 for breaching the Minimum Wage and Holidays Acts and $55,000 for breaching the Employment Relations Act, and to pay the workers $96,574 as minimum wages and holiday pay.

The ministry said it had recovered money ordered to be paid to the 11 workers.

It said the Labour Inspectorate had won Employment Court orders freezing the company accounts so the money ordered by the ERA could be paid.

Bader-owned companies have paid all minimum wages and holiday pay and a significant amount in penalties had also been paid.

Labour Inspectorate Northern Regional Manager David Milne said the settlement was an excellent result.

"It was clear sufficient funds weren't available to cover all the substantial penalties ordered by the authority for breaching employment laws, as well as the money ordered to be paid to the employees," he said.

"The case serves as a clear warning to other employers who breach minimum labour standards. The Labour Inspectorate will not tolerate these breaches and will ensure accountability for them".

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- Fairfax Media

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