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Punished for breaching labour laws

New Zealand: Waikato's Matangi Berry Farm and director fined $120k

In a recent sentencing decision, a Waikato berry farm and its director have been fined $120,000 for multiple employment breaches relating to more than 200 migrant workers. Part of the fine, imposed on Matangi Berry Farm and its owner Jiubo Jiang by the Employment Court, will be paid to the affected employees.

The penalties are in addition to $45,000 paid back last year after mediation before the Employment Relations Authority.

Matangi Berry Farm's offending related to holiday pay and minimum wage breaches, failure to keep accurate records and not providing and retaining employment agreements. Although the losses to individual staff were not significant – about $200 each for 207 employees – the company had received a 12 per cent commission for contracting them out to a local blueberry orchard, the Labour inspector said.

Judge Bruce Corkill ordered Matangi Berry farm to pay $86,400 and Jiang to pay $40,800, with each of the employees receiving $200 and the balance to be paid to the Crown. The penalties would be paid in four equal quarterly instalments beginning on September 1.

Between November 2015 and October 2017, the farm hired out 207 of its employees for seasonal work at Blueberry Country in Ōhaupō.


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