About 25 protesters have gathered outside an Auckland bottle store to support a man who says he is owed $80,000 in unpaid wages.

The man, Manjinder Singh, 23, says he was paid to work 30 hours a week but actually had to work 62 hours a week for a wage that worked out at $7 an hour - well below the minimum legal wage of $15.75.

But Kamal Deep, who described himself as a friend of the shop owner Ravinder Kumar Arora, said Singh was always paid at least the minimum wage and was not owed anything.

The protesters from Unite Union are outside Bottle-O in Pt Chevalier, which Singh said was one of four or five liquor shops he worked in, all owned by Arora.

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Manjinder Singh, 23, says he was paid to work 30 hours a week but actually had to work 62 hours a week for a wage that worked out at $7 an hour – well below the minimum legal wage of $15.75. Photo / Michael Craig
Manjinder Singh, 23, says he was paid to work 30 hours a week but actually had to work 62 hours a week for a wage that worked out at $7 an hour – well below the minimum legal wage of $15.75. Photo / Michael Craig

His recent bank statements, which he showed to the Herald, show that he was paid a consistent $432.51 a week after tax by Nikhil Himalaya Parkland Ltd, whose sole director is Ravinder Kumar Aurora.

He said he came to New Zealand in February 2014 on a student visa to study business at the International College of Auckland (ICA). ICA's accreditation to provide business courses was withdrawn today after the NZ Qualifications Authority found that students were being passed who should not have passed.

The visa allowed him to work 20 hours a week, but Sunny Sehgal of the Migrant Workers Association said Singh was actually required to work 35 hours a week, and sometimes more than that on the basis that anything above 35 hours was paid at $7 an hour "under the table".

After completing the course, Singh transferred to a two-year work visa in September 2016 and his official hours increased to 30 hours a week, but Sehgal said he was actually required to work 62 hours.

Sehgal said Singh was never paid for annual leave or sick leave, and that he was not paid when he took leave to return to India after his father died last December.

He said Singh asked again for leave to return to India for two or three months about six weeks ago, but was turned down so he decided to quit. He then asked to be paid for the extra hours and leave that he had not been paid for.

"The employer said, 'How can we establish what we owe you?' So they agreed on $80,000," Sehgal said.

However Deep showed the Herald a return air ticket to India on Singapore Airlines for Singh last December and a credit card record showing that $2504.26 was paid to Singapore Airlines by Ravinder Kumar Arora at the same time.

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"Mr Ravi paid for the ticket with his own credit card," Deep said.

"Everything was perfectly paid every week. He is up to date with his wages.

"If you are not happy with your job, how long will you wait? Why did he work for three years if he was not happy with this?"

Deep said Singh himself agreed to work extra hours.

"He comes from India, from a very poor family, and he needs the money," Deep said.