Canterbury asparagus grower must pay nearly $50,000 in owed wages to workers

Photo: Getty Images / File
Photo: Getty Images / File
A Canterbury asparagus grower has been stung nearly $50,000 for underpaying staff.

The Employment Relations Authority has ordered Christopher Gray, of Motukarara Asparagus, to repay 13 pickers for unlawful deductions, minimum wage arrears and proper holiday pay entitlements.

He must pay a total of $49,722.49 to the former employees, 10 of whom were seasonal migrant workers, two other migrant workers and one New Zealander.

The Labour Inspectorate found some of the employee's wages were being calculated based on how much asparagus they picked at $2.50 a kilo.

Horticulture sector inspector Kevin Finnegan said there was no system in place to make sure they were earning at least minimum wage.

He said they also found pay was being deducted for things like airfares and accommodation without the workers' consent and Gray had failed to pay them time and a half for working public holidays.

The Labour Inspectorate uncovered the issues as part of a standard audit undertaken at the end of the first year of being a Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE).

"If employees are earning piece rates that work out to be below the minimum wage per hour, they need to be topped up to at least the minimum wage. Mr Gray did not do so," Finnegan said.








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