Vineyard contractor fined

Last updated 14:07 20/03/2014

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Two of the people working for a Marlborough vineyard contractor without employment contracts were not legally allowed to work in New Zealand, an Employment Relations Authority determination says.

The determination fined TP Manu Ltd and its Blenheim-based director Fakatouola (or Willy) Pulukamu $3000 for having three staff without written employment contracts.

In the written determination, published last month, the authority said the labour inspector and an immigration officer visited the Grove Mill 17 Valley Vineyard last May where TP Manu staff were working.

The three staff working without contracts left when they arrived, despite being recorded by Mr Pulukamu as working through.

Of those three workers, one was a New Zealand resident and the other two did not have the correct immigration status to be legally working in New Zealand.

"However, having done some work for the respondent, all three should have been paid for the work that they did that day," the decision says.

The authority noted that the immigration status of the workers "raised other issues outside the authority's jurisdiction and the scope of this determination".

A spokesman from the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, which oversees both labour inspections and immigration, said Immigration New Zealand did follow up on immigration aspects relating to the visit to TP Manu.

One of the two people working illegally was deported in June last year. The other person was still in New Zealand and is facing charges on an unrelated matter. "No action will be taken in this case until those proceedings are finished."

TP Manu Ltd had been given a warning, the spokesman said. The warning reiterated the company's obligations under the Immigration Act 2009 and outlined the consequences of non-compliance.

Employers could face serious penalties of up to $50,000 for hiring foreign nationals who had no legal authority to work in New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand took a serious view of employers who employed illegal labour and regularly did unannounced checks, the spokesman said.

There was no reason for employers to hire unlawful workers. There were a number of tools available to check if a foreign national can work in New Zealand, including an online system called VisaView, which allowed employers to verify whether prospective employees were entitled to work for them and whether there were any conditions on their employment.

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The spokesman said Immigration NZ did not keep a regional breakdown of figures of people found working illegally in a reportable format.

But in the last financial year (1 July 2012 - 30 June 2013) 155 unlawful workers were made liable for deportation nationally and so far this financial year 108 workers have been made liable for deportation, he said.

- The Marlborough Express


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