Two Hawkes Bay dairy workers have been awarded $135,000 by the Employment Relations Authority after a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment investigation found they had been underpaid.

Devender Singh and Ramvir Pal worked for SK Brothers, a company directed by Sarjeevan Kumar that operates three or four dairies, and alerted MBIE they had been underpaid by their employer.

Separate hearings at the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) also found both men had made loans of tens of thousands of dollars to people owed money by their employer.

Singh was employed by SK as the manager of a Napier dairy and takeaway from July 2012 and Pal was employed at a similar establishment in Waipukurau from December 2011. Both men were in New Zealand on work visas that were conditional on their employment by SK.


In July 2013, Singh was injured at work when hot oil splashed into his eye. He was unable to work and let his boss, Kumar, know of his situation. Singh told the Employment Relations Authority Kumar tore his medical certificate up and rang Immigration New Zealand to advise Singh had been dismissed.

Kumar denied the accusations at the ERA, but Member of the Authority Michael Loftus found Singh had been unjustifiably dismissed.

In August, Singh raised concerns about his pay with MBIE, which conducted an investigation. A labour inspector found Singh had pay deficiencies totalling $20,752.

Singh also reported he had loaned $17,239 to various creditors of SK after being told the business, and his ability to stay in New Zealand, would collapse if he did not do so.

Kumar told the ERA he never asked Singh to pay the company's debt.

On top of the lost wages and the return of money loaned, Singh was awarded $10,000 in compensation $9,620 for income loast as a result of his dismissal and $1,750 costs.

In Waipukurau, Pal reported his concerns about being paid incorrectly to MBIE in September 2013. He did so after being asked to pay $5000 to Kumar as a way to guarantee his employment continued after Kumar told him the dairy had been sold.

A labour inspector from, MBIE found Pal's pay deficiencies totaled $46,755. Pal also loaned money to Kumar's creditors because he feared the business would fold.


The ERA ordered Pal be repaid the $12,240 he loaned to Kumar and the pay deficiencies. He was also awarded $10,000 in compensation, $7000 in wages lost as a result of his dismissal and $1,750 for costs.

Read the full decisions here: