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Liquor store chain operator loses licence after exploiting workers

Nekita Enterprises, which owns and operates five liquor stores across the Canterbury region, has had its liquor license revoked after the Labour Inspectorate uncovered acts of worker exploitation.

Nekita has been fined $125,000 in penalties for operating a dual payroll system to avoid paying staff for all the hours they work and failing to keep records for 59 of its employees.

Labour Inspectorate retail sector lead Loua Ward said the business’ behaviour was unacceptable, and that it had intentionally breached employment law in order to create a competitive advantage.

“This Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority decision has shifted the balance of power as exploiters now risk being put out of business entirely,” Ward said.

“[It] sends a clear message that businesses that exploit their workers can lose their licenses. We encourage liquor store workers who have been exploited by unscrupulous employers to come forward.”

Ward did, however, note that it was encouraging to see industry leaders, such as Liquorland, Super Liquor, The Bottle-O, DB, Lion and Asahi, coming together to engage with the Inspectorate in order to solve the issue of exploitation in the sector.

“The majority of New Zealand employers want to do the right thing,” Ward said.

“Ensuring a level playing field is especially important for the labour market’s recovery from the effects of Covid-19.”

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