Taxi drivers still awaiting payments

Four Dunedin taxi drivers are still owed nearly $100,000 in unpaid wages as they wait to hear if an appeal by their former bosses has been successful.

In August, former Southern Taxi drivers Brian Carnahan, George Kennedy, Gary Powell and Toni Powell were awarded their share of $97,753 in unpaid holiday pay and minimum wages by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

All four worked for Southern Taxis Ltd at different times between October 2013 and December 2016, when Ron and Maureen Grant were the directors.

They were found to have received the minimum wage no more than 15% of the time, and received no holidays or leave.

Southern Taxis argued the drivers were independent contractors and were considered commission agents.

The company has since been sold, and the ERA still needs to decide if the Grants are personally liable for the wages in arrears.

They have applied to the Employment Court for a rehearing, and if they are successful the case would need to be heard again.

Both were unable to be contacted yesterday.

Mr Powell, who worked for the company for more than a year, said he and his wife were still waiting for the more than $40,000 they were owed, which did not include any interest which the company was also ordered to pay.

"We've won our case as you know, but it just seems to be dragging on and dragging on and it gets keeping put off over and over again, I'm not sure anyone is intending to deal with it," Mr Powell said.

Both had returned to driving taxis as independents, but were struggling financially, he said.

"It seems to me they used us to get the case on the go and now they've got what they wanted and we've been forgotten about," he said.

Those feelings were shared by Mr Carnahan, who said he was not being told how the case was proceeding.

"We're not being told anything, we don't know what's going on except we haven't got our money yet.

"Yes, I feel let down."

A labour inspectorate spokesman said the payment was on hold because the company had no ability to pay, so the ERA needed to determine the director liability issue.

Until then, the labour inspectorate would communicate with the drivers and inform them of an outcome once matters progressed and more information was known, the spokesman said.

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