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Half of audited NZ kiwifruit contractors paid below minimum wage

Staff Writer |
At least half of the kiwifruit contractors who have been audited or investigated in the Bay of Plenty have failed to provide employment contracts or pay the minimum wage, an MBIE investigation has found.

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A Labour Inspectorate operation audited 62 labour companies and interviewed nearly 700 workers over three months last year.

They found 53 per cent of employers failed to meet minimum employment standards, and almost all of these employers were using migrant labour.

Inspectors uncovered 94 breaches of the standards, and issued 20 improvement notices and six "enforceable undertakings."

Two of the employers given improvement notices were also fined $1000 each.

NZ Kiwifruit Growers chief executive Nikki Johnson said the findings were disappointing, but not surprising.

"We've been aware of issues around labour compliance for some time. the operation that MBIE have announced took place in the 2016 harvest so we've been working proactively on this issue for some time.

"The level of non-compliance is perhaps surprising, but it does mean that the work we are doing is justified... we'll be looking for improvement across the industry."

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