Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Filipino woman who ran a restaurant in Auckland in New Zealand has been jailed for more than two years after being found guilty of exploiting migrant workers also from the Philippines.

Virgil Balajadia was sentenced to 26 months in prison while her husband, Luisito, was sentenced to eight months’ home detention.

The case went to the Auckland District Court in February, which found the couple guilty. They appealed the conviction, but the Court of Appeal has just confirmed their sentences for migrant exploitation, Radio NZ reported.

The court heard that the couple hired workers from the Philippines for their restaurant, the 3 Kings in Birkenhead, and made them work 12 hours a day, six days a week with no breaks. The workers were also underpaid – only paid for 40 hours a week.

One of the victims described Balajadia as “extremely abusive and controlling”, and was made to live in the couple’s house and clean it after working in the restaurant.

The couple’s appeal against their conviction was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Balajadia and her husband were also ordered to pay NZ$7,200 (US$4,878) to each of the victims.