Having exploited migrant workers for two years, New Zealand has jailed owners of a sweet-making shop in Auckland.
The owners, a Bangladeshi couple, were tried and found guilty of exploiting migrant workers whom they overworked and paid a meager $6 per hour. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) charged the couple, Mohammed Atiqul Islam and Nafisa Ahmed, with a number of offenses that include ‘smuggling’ of two Bangladeshi nationals into New Zealand which led one of the very few human trafficking prosecutions in the history of the country but they were not found guilty.
The husband who is almost 40 was convicted of 20 counts of charges comprising 10 charges of exploitation, seven charges of immigration-related offenses and three charges of attempt to pervert justice. The wife, on the other hand, was found guilty of the seven charges relating to exploitation.
We might die from overwork
Two chefs at the Royal Sweets Cafe reached out to New Zealand authorities complaining about the conditions of work in the company. The chefs came to New Zealand from Bangladesh, but their passports were confiscated by the business owners as soon as they enter the country.
According to hearings in court, employees of the company are made to work long hours with a meager $6 per hour pay against a pre-tax minimum wage of $17.70 for adults in New Zealand. They are not paid fully and do not have any bonus.
The couples also encouraged employees on temporary visas to work more hours, which is a breach of their visa conditions.
Many of the employees cried out that they might die from overwork if nothing is done about their situation with many of them suffering swollen hands and legs, according to crown prosecutor Jacob Parry.
Meeting out the sentence, judge Gibson said the exploitation is pre-planned and aimed at commercial gains according to evidence and sentenced Atiqul and Nafisa to four years and five months and two and a half years jail term respectively.
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