UTU JUSTICE FOR WORKERS REPORT: Serial Exploiter Threatens Worker

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SEJAL PATEL - Blackmailed - No Wages - $10,000 Extorted Police Complaint Laid - Court Order filed

A Hamilton business owner is accused of threatening to “expose” a former employee after One Union filed a claim against the employer for $26,000 in unpaid wages, and the return of $10,000 the worker was forced to pay to keep her job. 

The employer is Ms Sejalben Patel (aka Sejal Patel), the owner of Skin Delight Limited, that employed the worker between March and December 2018. Patel has owned several businesses over the years and has engaged in similar exploitation of her employees.

Attempts to get this worker justice has gone on for over 18 months without success. After Patel was advised last week that the case is now filed in the Employment Relations Authority, she unlawfully contacted the worker with a series of texts and calls, threatening blackmail to the worker on unspecified matters unless the worker withdrew her case and terminated the union as her representative. 

The union’s claim alleges the worker was required by Patel to work for no wages for the first three months of employment. Thereafter the worker was paid less than 30 hours weekly, despite working for 50 hours. It seems taxes were not passed to the Inland Revenue Department. In addition, Patel pressured the worker to pay a $10,000 “loan” to keep her job. When the worker requested this money back as promised, Patel threatened legal actions against her. 

Disappointingly, when the Employment Authority arranged formal mediation last August, Patel was a no show. Afterwards she did admit to the essential facts of the case and offered to enter into good faith negotiations to resolve the matter. Yet despite Patel’s many promises, none of this loan has ever been returned. Nor has she made any offer to pay any of the unpaid wages or outstanding holiday pay she owes the worker. 

Despite the union’s direct warnings to Patel, and the filing of a formal complaint with the police, Patel continues to harass this worker and another member of her family. We have instructed the worker to block her calls and pass on any communications from Patel to us. The emails and texts from Patel are damning evidence and will be tabled in the appropriate forum. 

We are aware of at least one other occasion where Patel has threatened another former employee with similar tactics. As a consequence One Union has had to support a formal court non-molestation order against Patel. We have also filed an urgent application to the Employment Authority requesting immediate actions for financial penalties against Patel for harassment, in addition to the repayment of the loan and unpaid wages. 

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It is critical that employers like Patel are held to account for their bullying and menacing behaviour. Patel has engaged in an ongoing pattern of abusive and exploitive conduct against vulnerable workers. We settled an earlier case with Patel for a former employee with an almost identical story. At that time she gave a commitment to us she would stop her exploitative behaviour. It is now clear she has not. We are aware of another similar case underway against her. In the last month we have been contacted by several other people who have passed on other disturbing information about Patel. In the last month we understand Patel  has made serious allegations against people she has had a dispute with.  These people have strenuously denied her claims. Given her track record I’d be sceptical of anything she says. 

People like Patel must be stopped from owning a business or employing workers. One Union is compiling a dossier on Patel for the MBIE Labour Inspectorate, Immigration NZ, and the Inland Revenue Department. We will then request action from these enforcement entities against Patel.  

If people have any information regarding Ms Sejalben (Sejal) Patel, Unique Cleaning Solutions Limited, Avondale Superette, Fruit & Vege Supermarket in Hamilton, or Skin Delight Limited please contact us at support@oneunion.org.nz 

 

Matt McCarten is the Secretary of One Union

 

 

26 COMMENTS

  1. If you ill treat an animal you can be banned from owning animal for a period of time .This should apply to business people like this person. This is yet another case of a an immegrant abusing other immegrants. They should lose their citizenship.

  2. It is about time employers like this employer is barred, or prevented from being an employer of people in NZ.

    Slavery and oppressive work places need to be made a thing of the past.

    • What would be the right thing to do is to remove their NZ Citizenship from them. They’ve breached the code of being a Good Citizen. Simple.

  3. Well, me being old school supposed dinosaur Unionist, being would say we may have been under past and present chancers given the chance National Party governance of worker exploitive rules, no more this form of not only imported workers but also born kiwi workers to this third world capitalist profit exploit has to be gone, it was gone one time under the knowing of a Labour Government, introducing knowing the kiwi mind and introducing compulsory unionism, why the knowing governing parliamentary new the fear of the worker speaking out, and so compulsory unionism, less little less for the employer profit exploit but better for the exploited employed. Wonder could I get a job writIng for a capitalist mag AND blowing about the dinosaurs, and end up waffling long and boring.

  4. Not related to this story but:
    There was an item on RNZ recently about the Malaysian company Top Glove.
    They are a slave labour company.
    They bring in workers from the poorest neighbouring countries – like Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
    These workers work 100 hours a week or more for about US 225 dollars a month.
    First, they spend up to a year working off the debt charged to them for getting the job.
    The United States has banned imports from them.
    Why are they allowed to export here?

      • Just curious. If I had 10gs in savings, I wouldn’t give it to an employer to get/keep a job, but I guess maybe there’s more to the story. Also, I could use 10gs right about now, hehehehe.

        • Country, supposed full of work good pay and hope. Those exploiter employers either jailed or if needed deported.

    • @ Paulinator – “Where the hell did that worker get $10 000 from?”

      That’s not the issue but your question indicates an attitude which aligns with the attitude of the employer which is to mistreat, exploit, use and abuse employees, like the former employee in this story. What a disgusting attitude.

    • Their families back home borrow and give it to them It’s counted as an investment. Get work here, then residency, then bring the whole family over. From all angles it’s way past time this was stopped. Oh – deport the employer, no matter the state of her residence/citizenship.

  5. These victims borrow the money.

    The racket goes like this. The worker gets the job and signs an employment agreement. They are so grateful to be in a legitimate job with a visa sponsor. Then after they start the worker is told the employer can’t afford the cost of wages and request the worker pays them a loan to help the employer.

    Given the employer is sponsoring the worker’s visa they feel they have no choice, and are terrified of losing their job in a new country. So they borrow from friends, loan sharks, banks or on credit cards. Then they spend weeks begging for a wage to live. Eventually after they have been destroyed in their confidence they realise they have been part of a scam. The employer then tells INZ they have terminated the employee and INZ then issues deportation papers within 14 days. The employer then move onto the next victim.

    Outrageously when workers have approached MBIE the employer is informed and they lose their job.

    That keeps these workers in unpaid bondage and in debt. They are scared to talk to anyone.
    This is turbo greed and capitalism at its worst. Our project is set up intend to get these workers justice. This first step I have agreed to write ongoing about this abuse.

    It is widespread. The left needs to step up and build organisation and practical support.

    In solidarity,
    Matt McCarten

    • Thank you for explaining. Matt. I asked the question half in jest because I don’t know many people who can get their hands on 10K. I didn’t realise that this kind of thing happens, thank you for breaking it down. Wow, that’s really fucking heartless to break down people like that and then cast them aside. I had no idea.

    • Matt – “Outrageously when workers have approached MBIE the employer is informed and they lose their job.”

      I am guessing MBIE has to inform the employer that a complaint has been made against them by one of their employees but is it the case that MBIE don’t really care what happens to the employee just as long as they, MBIE, are ticking the boxes when a complaint comes in?

    • Such outrageous- ness. We have had the same in the news with that liquor store owner. I’m sure savenz could drag up the links, these people are breaking the law with this exploitation. Instead of INZ working on behalf of these con artists, they , along with IRNZ should auditing them.

      The worst thing is its been going on for over a decade with the John Key administration turning a blind eye to this criminality. Its time this appalling abuse of our labour laws ended and those guilty were heftily fined and imprisoned.

  6. Exploitation is the name of the rightie game.
    Ever heard of a bi-segmented hard drive…?
    Is this a ‘simulation’?

    • Judith Collins polocy on small business is to bring back 90 day trials and lunchbreaks will be ” gone by lunchtime ”

      Seems like she’s a strong advocate for Skin Delight Ltd type of businesses, oh and Oravida

  7. Matt, I haven’t read your article. Just want to hear as much as you can spew. As much as you can ‘do’ — one of few Lefties who know how to do. When it was how we conquered this country.

  8. If This exploitation issue is going since long why it has come to lime light now ? and if investigation is going on why not produce an evidence of the same and if any police complain please give us the details as well .. it looks one sided story but still this story has comes only after one of the Union Member has been removed from ETU for asking a sexual favor to settle the exploitation case ? I feel more like this is harassment to victim . I believe you should have posted 2 side story . Then it looks genuine .

    [Siya/Sejal, please use only one username when posting on this Forum. – Scarletmod]

  9. Rural (semi-feudal) capitalism continuous to develop through a long and brutal history of exploitation of the landless, smallholder-farmers, ethnic and religious minority groups, poor migrants; specifically using women and children often held under slave-like working relationships.

    Simultaneously to the global expansion of neo-liberalism, new ‘innovative models’ of slave labour and bonded labour are pulled over hundreds of millions farmers and workers world-wide.

    https://news.trust.org/item/20200512231918-kzzmr

    It must be expected that capitalist adaptation strategy (‘de-regulation’) analogous to the Covid19 saga will further drive the ‘race to the bottom’ of countless small farmers and workers in all national economies, including New Zealand’s.

    A particular role in the exploitation process is played by unscrupulous individuals/agents who use cultural, family/ethnicity-related, semi-feudal, or other informal dispositions of workers to outstrip, circumvent or misappropriate formal and legal processes associated to status of employment (and an eventually associated visa).

    These exploiters are extremely difficult to expose as they are able to move with comparative ease between different formal / informal environments, and the social and psychological layers of a human being (the victim).

    Besides this specific case, modern slave labour and bonded labour are a very significant matter for the international Left. And so are the cross-cultural and legal implications eventually permeating this subject.

  10. Dear DailyBlog,

    This is sejal here, This is one side story and fake story, I have emailed you and commenting here as well take this off in the next 48hours or give me solid evidence to support this fake story.

    Thanks
    Sejal Patel

    [Siya/Sejal, please use only one username when posting on this Forum. – Scarletmod]

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