By Adam Hollingworth
The Department of Labour is being accused of dragging its feet in the case of six Indians who were allegedly paid between $2 and $4 an hour at an Auckland liquor store.
An employment law specialist says the investigation has gone nowhere in four months while his clients share a two-bedroom flat awaiting justice.
3 News first met the Indian students in February. They said they were being “totally exploited”.
Back then they said their employer was paying them between $2 and $4 an hour and threatening to get them deported if they complained.
They were working at Sky Liquor and Symonds Liquor in central Auckland. It has been more than four months since they complained, and they regret going to the media. Since then it has only got worse for them.
The Department of Labour declined to be interviewed.
But a spokesman said it was told in January.
Inspectors have since spoken to all parties. They take allegations of non-compliance very seriously but they're still considering the evidence.
“These guys are actually getting feedback from other people who go into that particular store, and the employer is bragging,” says employment law advocate Max Whitehead. “He says ‘nobody can touch me’. ‘I can operate the way I like.’ You can imagine the message that has given to other employers out there – they can breach whatever laws they like.”
3 News wanted to ask their former boss to address the allegations.
Word must have got out because as we approached a second store at 3pm they were closing shop. They're meant to close at midnight.
Workers nearby identified a man in his car who left the store in a hurry, but who passed by several times, as the owner.
But while the Labour Department mulls the case, as far as the Indian students are concerned, justice delayed is justice denied.