Two immigrant workers have spoken out about feeling helpless while being overworked and underpaid at a Hawke's Bay petrol station for two years.
Indian Nationals Shubham Sharma and Jaspal Singh are collectively owed more than $14,000 after local businessman Jag Mohan Singh Rawat exploited them at the BP2Go service station on Swansea Rd in Flaxmere.
Rawat, Peagasus Energy director, was sentenced in the Napier District Court on Monday to five months' home detention after pleading guilty to four charges of providing false or misleading information and two charges of exploitation earlier this year.
Sharma said his dealings with Rawat had left him feeling betrayed and angry that a member of his own community had ripped him off.
"That's why I took a step because I started realising that he was doing that thing with me and if I go from here somebody else will come and he would treat him the same way," he said.
First employed as forecourt attendants in 2013 it wasn't until 2015 that Sharma and Singh provided documentation of the two years' worth of employment dealings to New Zealand Immigration.
Throughout this time the company was found in serious default of the Minimum Wage Act payments and in serious contravention of the Wages Protection Act.
After hearing Monday's sentencing Singh said he wasn't satisfied with five months' home detention.
"It was the worst two years of my life," Singh said.
Sharma said the experienced had left him feeling depressed and had made it difficult to get another job in his field.
"After that incident I tried to find a job and it's getting really hard for me because wherever I go they ask me for a reference and when I tell them that this thing happened with me they don't want to hire me because they think I'm going to do the same thing to them."
"Everyone thinks we are the bad people," Mr Singh said.
Both complainants did not want their photographs taken because they feared it would affect future employment opportunities.
Immigration New Zealand assistant general manager Peter Devoy said addressing the exploitation of migrants is a priority for the Ministry.
"Migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment recognises that migrant workers are a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce as they are less likely to be aware of their rights and entitlements than their New Zealand colleagues."
The summary of facts obtained by Hawke's Bay Today stated the complainants had continually questioned the actions of Rawat who had responded with "a false promise or denial of any claims of entitlement to money owed."
It also stated Rawat had "generated a level of control over both complainants by reminding them that their work status in New Zealand was temporary and that deportation to India was a possibility."
Pegasus Energy Limited, of which Rawat is the sole director, was convicted and discharged of two exploitation charges in January after Rawat admitted the offences.
The company is still to appear before the Employment Relations Authority later this year.
Defence counsel Anna Longdill said Rawat had nothing further to say about the matter.