Simon Collins is the Herald’s education reporter.

Hope of $15k payout fades

Eight weeks after being awarded $15,518 in unpaid wages and reparation, sacked Otara tyre worker Patrick Toia is yet to receive a cent.

The company he worked for, Aariz Tyres and Auto, went into liquidation on June 28.

Company owner Saif Ali continues to trade from the same premises at 4 Lovegrove Cres, Otara, using another company he registered on June 29, Cheap Tyres and Auto.

But Toia's chances of getting any money look minimal because Aariz Tyres liquidator Paul Vlasic said Ali had advised him that Aariz Tyres "never traded and also didn't have a bank account".

"Our investigations have confirmed that the company never had a bank account," he said.

"At this time, the liquidators have not recovered any funds ... so there is no funds currently available for creditors."

Toia, 51, started working for the company for 30 hours a week at $15 an hour on August 5 last year. He had been unemployed since serving a 32-month jail term imposed in 2008 for supplying methamphetamine, and was referred to Aariz Tyres by Work and Income.

Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner Blair McKenzie confirmed that the ministry paid Aariz Tyres a wage subsidy for Toia of $307 per week for 26 weeks.

Ali said Toia actually worked only the agreed 30 hours a week. But Toia said he regularly worked much longer hours for no extra pay.

"We started at 9am and finished at 5.15pm, and all day Saturday," he said. "I worked every Saturday 'til I got to a point, about a month before I left, when I finished working Saturdays and told him why."

He complained about a lack of gloves and safety eyewear.

Ali dismissed Toia on February 17 this year.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled on May 31 that the dismissal was unjustified and followed a request by Ali for Toia "to dispose of old tyres by dumping them wherever he could".

It awarded Toia $15,518 in unpaid wages, holiday pay and compensation.

Ali, who did not attend the authority hearing, told the Herald he only asked Toia to dispose of a truckload of tyres that Toia had asked to take to a farmer he knew at Maraetai.

He said he finally dismissed Toia after he abused a female customer - a woman Toia said was his auntie.

"He was ... using the F word," Ali said. "There were lots of other complaints too."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said it was assessing a complaint alleging illegal "phoenix trading in relation to Aariz Tyres".

Auckland Council compliance manager Steve Pearce said the council had asked Ali to remove a hazardous 3m-high stack of tyres at his premises.

"Non-compliance [can lead to fines and] court action."

- NZ Herald

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