Wellington businesswoman charged with exploitation of Fijian servants
An unidentified Wellington businesswoman has been charged with 12 offences relating to her employment of two Fijian women as house servants.
The two Fijian workers claim they were forced to work illegally, exploited, denied the legal minimum wage and holiday payments and treated as slaves rather than employees. When one woman complained, she claims she was told to either accept the conditions or find work in a strip club.
The woman, in employment at the accused’s house from June till October 2011, claimed she was paid just $40 for a seven-day working week, receiving only $4560 when she should have been paid $66,285 gross. In a statement to the prosecution, she said she had never felt free whilst in the businesswoman’s employ.
The second woman, employed between February and October 2011, claims she was paid $1,320, but should have received $34,366 based on a 12-hour working day, seven days a week. In her statement to the prosecution, she said she had been told to work as a prostitute if she was unhappy with her situation. The pair had their passports confiscated by their employer and finally begged Immigration officials for help.
A date has not yet been set for the trial, and the identities of both the workers and their former boss are being protected. The prosecution expects to be able to challenge both workers’ statements at trial.
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