One Garlic Naan with a side of Exploitation please

I very recently took the plunge and attempted to extend my culinary repertoire to include Indian-style curry. I have always enjoyed a curry, even if only on a European-spicy butter chicken level. Until now I had never been brave enough to try and make one myself for fear that my dinner would be completely inedible. This fear, combined with a long ingrained mentality of hating to waste food, means I have a tendency to live off nachos. Turns out simply adding coconut water and some spices to anything makes it delicious.

Despite my newly awakened cooking skills I will always enjoy going out to a good Indian restaurant for a meal. In fact, despite what some people may think about the combination of curry and wine, some of my most enjoyable nights have followed on swiftly from an Indian BYO.

Exploitation of migrant workers

It will come as no surprise that many chefs in Indian restaurants are migrant workers, and I am a big supporter of anyone who does a good job of my standard medium curry and garlic naan order. What is not so obvious is the fact that migrant workers are being increasingly exploited by some New Zealand businesses.

Illegal to demand a fee in exchange for a job

In a recent case heard before the Employment Relations Authority a migrant employee, Mrs P, had been forced to pay her boss a premium of $14,400. Why you may ask? To secure her job once she arrived in the country, to organise residency in New Zealand and to obtain a work permit. Requiring Mrs P to pay this substantial sum of money was a clear breach of the Wages Protection Act which states that no premium can be charged for employment.

While the employer had already paid $3,000 compensation to Mrs P the Authority ordered the employer pay a further $11,400 to fully reimburse Mrs P for the premium she had paid.

Worker owed more than $30,000

And if the idea of having to pay your employer a fee before they give you a job isn’t bad enough, that wasn’t the end of the matter. The Authority also found the employee was owed $31,413.19 in unpaid wages, holiday pay and payment for lieu days. This not insignificant sum became owing within the space of a mere three years.

Mrs P’s situation was just the most recent in a series of migrant exploitation cases, a topic which seems to be making everyone increasingly nervous the more it is publicised. I for one don’t understand how discrimination can still run so deep in this day and age. As a nation we cannot simply put our head in the sand and say it isn’t our problem. But then again what would I know; I’m just a Southland lass who likes butter chicken.