Indian cook went unpaid for more than two years in Australia

Darshana's Curry and Tea House,

MELBOURNE: A cook from India employed with a restaurant in Australia’s Adelaide remained unpaid for two years after the owners threatened her with deportation if she reported the issue, media reports said. Pawanjeet Heir received no wages, no overtime, no annual leave and no superannuation while working at Darshana’s Curry and Tea House, an Indian restaurant in Mawson Lakes between 2013 and 2015, the ABC News reported.

According to her lawyer, Pawanjeet, who moved to Australia in 2008 as a student, was underpaid by almost AUS $200,000.

After finishing a course in cooking and hospitality management, Kiranbahai Patel offered her a position as a cook at the Darshana’s Curry and Tea House restaurant in May 2013, to which she agreed. He initially paid her for four weeks in June and July 2013, the South Australian Employment Tribunal heard.

Further, Patel told Pawanjeet that she had to pay him AUS$30,000 for fees needed by the Department of Immigration and the Australian Taxation Office or he would get her visa cancelled. Patel also refused Pawanjeet’s requests for sick leave and carers’ leave, asking her to come to work even when her appendix burst in August 2015.

The tribunal also heard that Patel would credit salary into Pawanjeet’s bank account, and she would withdraw it from the ATM and hand the money back to him to create a record showing he was paying her the correct amount, ABC News reported.

Another hearing will be held to work out the penalties Patel will have to pay to Pawanjeet. Pawanjeet, meanwhile, has to take separate civil court action to reclaim her unpaid wages and superannuation. The Department of Immigration audited the business that owned the restaurant and barred it from sponsoring any more visa holders.

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