May 29, 2019

(TDB) - The New Zealand Employment Relations Authority has warned vineyards to ensure they are using proper contractors after a firm was fined NZ$30,000 for failing to pay 12 migrant workers in Hawke’s Bay.

ICM Horticultural Contracting Limited has been fined for failing to pay 12 workers from Papua New Guinea who were carrying out work at Te Mata Estate in Hawke’s Bay.

According to supporting documentation, Martha Fretton, the director of ICM, billed Te Mata $25,887.61 for the work carried out by the 12 individuals, which the winery duly paid. Fretton, however, failed to subsequently pay the workers.

She claimed that the group were never employees but people ICM had agreed to sponsor and train while they remained employees of Global 4040, a global exposure company run by Christina-Kewa Swarbrick and her husband Antony Swarbrick.

The ERA, however, noted that “the evidence is the training was minimal and thereafter the group worked on tasks directed by Ms Fretton in a way identical to any group of employees she supervised.”

It noted that Te Mata’s managers believed the group were RSE (recognised seasonal employer) workers, but did not officially confirm that they were.

Member of the ERA, Michael Loftus, concluded that the workers were indeed employees of ICM and that the firm owes outstanding wages and holiday pay totalling $31,128.36.

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