Christopher Gray, the Canterbury asparagus grower who was ordered to pay exploited laborers $50,000 in October, has been fined another $26,000. Earlier, the Employment Relations Authority ordered Gray, a sole trader operating as Motukarara Asparagus, to repay $50,000 to 13 workers for unlawful deductions, minimum wage arrears and holiday pay. Ten of the workers were seasonal migrant workers from Fiji, two were migrant workers and one a New Zealander.
According to the Authority, Gray’s transgressions were “more egregious” because most workers were vulnerable to exploitation, living in New Zealand under the seasonal migrant scheme.
Some workers were paid based on the amount of asparagus they picked during the 2017 season, at a rate of $2.50 per kilogram.