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Migrant exploitation earns Kiwfruit firm $250k fine

10th December 2020 By Staff Reporter | | @foodtickernz

A kiwifruit picking company and its former owner have been ordered to pay over $250,000 for exploiting six migrant workers. 

Rajasekar Chellappa, former owner of Raj Kiwi, failed to pay minimum wage to workers and wasn’t keeping accurate employment records, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The Labour Inspectorate took Chellappa to the Employment Relations Court where Raj Kiwi was penalised $160,000 and Rajasekar Chellappa fined an additional $70,000, for 49 employment minimum standards breaches. 

Raj Kiwi was also ordered to pay wage arrears to the six workers, totalling more than $26,000.

Labour Inspectorate Horticulture sector lead, Kevin Finnegan, said the employer was “at the worst end of migrant exploitation”.

“But it could have been even worse. The Inspectorate continues to encourage anyone who believes their employment rights are in breach to come forward, and that is what happened here – the complainants came forward to the MBIE help line.”

Finnegan said Kiwifruit body Zespri also acted quickly after receiving similar complaints allowing the Inspectorate to immediately investigate the breaches.

“It is actions like this from Zespri that automatically show the sector and its supply chains that employers like Raj Kiwi are a red flag to anyone doing business with them, or buying their services.”

A subsidiary of Chellappa’s, Raj Infotech, was also ordered to pay nearly $30,000 by the ERA in 2019 in wage arrears and penalties. 



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