Cops have ordered the arrest of a Filipino couple for the exploitation of Filipino workers at their restaurant in New Zealand.
Virgil “Gie” Balajadia was convicted of 5 charges of providing false and misleading information as well as 2 charges of exploitation under the Immigration Act 2009. She was sentenced to 26 months in jail and ordered to pay $7,200.
The Auckland District Court also found Gie’s husband guilty of 2 charges of exploitation and 2 charges of falsification of documents. He was sentenced to 8 months of house arrest and also ordered to pay $7,200.
The plight of these workers was revealed after one sought the help of the Philippines Consulate. According to the worker, he and four others were chefs hired by the couple to work at their restaurant, 3 Kings Food in Birkenhead, Auckland.
They were promised an hourly rate of $16, with a minimum of 30 hours of work but while they were paid for work worth 40 hours per week, they were actually made to work “at least 10 hours per day, six days a week, without any breaks”.
The employee worked for the couple from April 2014 to July 2015 but he was not paid for the last two and a half months.
What’s worse, the victim has to pay the couple $150 per week for the makeshift room he lives in at their garage and was rarely allowed to leave.
“This employee was living at the defendants’ house and was taken to the restaurant by the owners every morning and then back to their house at night. He was told he would be reported to the police and sent home if he did not perform well in his job,” revealed Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Assistant General Manager Peter Devoy.
“He could only leave the house for short periods of time and cleaned the defendants’ house on Mondays when the restaurant was closed.”
The judge handling the case exclaimed that this was akin to modern-day slavery – and we couldn’t help but agree with him!