Indian held in forced labour in Australia to get $145,000

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Sydney, March 27 (IANS) An Australian court on Friday ordered a restaurant owner to pay A$186,000 ($144,387) in unpaid wages to a man who was trafficked from India and held in forced labour for 16 months, a leading Australian law firm involved in the case said in a statement.

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia heard that Divye Kumar Trivedi trafficked Dulo Ram from India to work at Trivedi’s Mand’s Indian Restaurant in Eastwood, Sydney. Ram was functionally illiterate, spoke virtually no English and had no contacts in the Australian community.

“Ram was held as a slave. He lived, ate, worked and slept in the restaurant kitchen, with only one day off in 16 months. He was not paid. When the restaurant was visited by the Department of Immigration, it was ‘fobbed off with lies and fabricated documents’,” the statement issued by the Carlton Utz law firm said.

The court found that the victim “spoke no English, was alone in this country, was under a trafficking debt, and was afraid”.

The judge ruled that a facade was built upon sham documents by Trivedi and his company to deceive the authorities and ordered the restaurant owner to pay $125,431.22 for wages, superannuation and annual leave for the 16-month period, as well as $60,607.81 in interest.

The head of the legal team of Clayton Utz which represented the victim as part of its pro bono effort, said the case was an important decision which shed light on some of the horrific conditions in which foreign workers have been held in Australia.