A Bay of Plenty fruit picking company and its sole owner have pleaded guilty to five charges under the Immigration Act for employing unlawful migrant workers.
Siliva Totau, the sole director of Pruning Picking Packing Ltd, was convicted of knowingly employing migrants who did not have valid visas and fined $4,910. Although it is illegal to employ workers who are in breach of their visa conditions, the court heard that Totau took advantage of the workers’ desperation to work.
Under the Immigration Act 2009, if an employer wishes to employ a foreign national, that person is required to hold a visa that entitles them to work in New Zealand.
Immigration New Zealand’s General Manager Verification and Compliance, Richard Owen says the horticultural and viticultural industries are important to the New Zealand economy and should be supported by businesses that are operating legally and ethically.
“Employers who demonstrate this kind of exploitive behaviour are jeopardising New Zealand’s reputation as a fair place to live, work and do business,” said Mr Owen.
Hiring unlawful workers is illegal and can result in significant fines and penalties for businesses. The Immigration Act 2009 prohibits employers from hiring workers who are not authorized to work in New Zealand. Businesses that are found to be in breach of this law can be fined up to $10,000 per worker.
“This conviction should send a strong message to anyone considering employing migrants who are not entitled to work or exploit temporary or unlawful migrants. No form of exploitation is acceptable in New Zealand, and you will be held to account,” said Mr Owen.