'Nobody is a superhuman' - Exploited migrant worker calls for Government crackdown on rogue employers

Source: 1News

A migrant exploited by his employer says his case is just the tip of the iceberg and he's calling on the new Government to put more safeguards in place.

Auckland restaurant manager Sachin Nayak has worked in top hospitality jobs all over the world, but he'd never felt exploited until he came to New Zealand.

Mr Nayak says he worked 12 hour shifts most days, but because his employer had sponsored his visa, he was too scared to speak up.

"My financial position...and my ability to live and work in New Zealand was completely dependent on that visa," Mr Nayak said.

Eventually, enough was enough. 

"Nobody is a superhuman who can work non stop and just keep working just to save a little bit of money," he said.

"It was really hard. At one point in time I said I either had to accept the situation or I have to fight against it." 

Fight he did, eventually winning an employment relations case and a payout of $40,000, plus lost earnings.

He hopes the new Government will do more to crack down on rogue employers.

There'll be more spot checks

—  Employment Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway

"If these departments are adequately staffed, they have enough staffing, they can do routine checks, they can go to workplaces, they can do spot checks, surprise checks, have a look at what's happening," he said.

The new Employment Relations Minister, Iain Lees-Galloway, says one of his priorities is to double the number of labour inspectors.

"There'll be more spot checks, more proactive enforcement of the law. At the moment it's very reactive. Labour inspectors rely on people making complaints," Mr Lees-Galloway said.

A publicly released blacklist of employers found to have breached migrant workers rights was launched by the previous government in April.

Since then 80 bosses have been named and shamed and banned from hiring migrant workers.

The list includes the owners of an Auckland Japanese restaurant and others ordered to pay thousands of dollars for failing to pay the minimum wage and holiday pay. 

Sachin Nayak says he was devastated to learn that many employers are exploiting people from their own ethnic community.

He's now happily settled here and is urging anyone in his situation to speak out.