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Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Employer accused of exploiting migrant workers

An Auckland employer accused of exploiting migrant workers by refusing pay and using city offices with no bathroom and kitchen facilities for their accommodation has failed to pay nearly $40,000 in settlement costs, documents from the employment watchdog reveal.

The documents, published today by the Employment Relations Authority, show Auckland woman Norajane Colos - sole director for the E-Advance, E-Jobs and E-Reuse companies - agreed to pay $39,075 to six complainants in November, plus travel costs for an airline ticket to Sri Lanka.

The bulk amount included compensation, outstanding salary and leave entitlements.

Newly-released determinations from authority member Eleanor Robinson show Ms Colos had managed to pay just $3000 for the airline ticket, citing financial problems with her companies.

She now has until March 27 to pay a slightly lower amount of $38,796.87 to the six complainants, Ms Robinson stated. The determinations are dated March 13.

The Herald revealed in August last year five people had complained to the authority about Ms Colos and her E-Advance company, which helps migrants find jobs.

The claims lodged with the authority included allegations that employees were asked to pay up to $15,000 to secure employment, were not paid wages and pressured to lend further sums to the company.

Some of the employees also said they had been forced to live in the company's level four office at Albert Plaza in the CBD after running out of money for rent and food. There was no toilet or shower, they said.

Ms Robinson's determinations show a settlement had been reached in regards to six complaints made against Ms Colos and three of the four companies she was listed as sole director for on November 13. According to the companies register, both E-Advance and E-Jobs were struck off the that month.

About one quarter of the agreed $39,075 settlement was supposed to have been paid by Ms Colos on November 27, with the rest being split up over deadline dates in December, January and February.

Complainants:

* Jiolaly Basilio, owed $5475

* Abhishek Thapliyal, owed $3338.12

* Rajwant Kaur, owed $8860

* Pankaj Kumar, owed $6342.50

* Sharry Ocampo, owed $4781.25

* Kannangara Ranga, owed $10,000

Exploitation claims

- Had to pay a premium or capital infusion of up to $15,000 to secure employment.

- Were not paid any wages, and pressured to loan further sums to the company.

- Office in central Auckland commercial building turned into accommodation for those who ran out of money for rent.

- It had no access to shower or kitchen and survived mainly on fruit and instant noodles.

- Subjected to "various degrees of humiliation" if they did not work full time without pay.

- APNZ

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