What does Modern Slavery look like? 11 days ago, on the Daily Blog, I introduced Michael and Simone Glen, long-time Caltex franchisees in Christchurch. I wrote about their vicious bullying campaign to break and drive a young father Raj*out of his job. They succeed. His crime?
11 days ago, on the Daily Blog, I introduced Michael and Simone Glen, long-time Caltex franchisees in Christchurch. I wrote about their vicious bullying campaign to break and drive a young father Raj*out of his job. They succeed.
His crime? Saying he could no longer work for free because his wife was about to have a new baby and he was needed at home.
Michael was furious and insisted Raj must keep working 5-15 hours a week for free, on top of his forty paid hours. When Raj remained firm, months of thuggery and abuse followed until Raj’s health was destroyed and him and his new family were penniless.
Bullies Go into Hiding
Since my earlier Daily Blog article I have been contacted by over a dozen former Caltex employees telling their stories of bullying, abuse, unfair sackings, and unpaid wages by this couple. It seems they have also put the lives of Caltex customers and employees in danger.
I followed on my earlier letters to the Glens, and their lawyer Robert Thompson about these new developments. No response. Staff inform me, the Glens decamped to Australia to get away for a stress break. That won’t fix their stress. Making things right, will.
Former employees have also written to the Michael Bennett, Caltex’s CEO. No response either. I suppose these people hope that if they hide away, we will go away. I told them, we won’t.
The Workers Talk
Up until last week I was hoping this was an isolated incident. It isn’t.
Here’s a sample list of what employees have reported to me.
Bullying – belittling and abuse are rampant. I have had six specific examples about Michael Glen’s behaviour. It seems the Glens use a lot of WINZ workers and migrant workers. They are scared and compliant.
Training on the worker’s dime – The training is non-existence for many, haphazard and inadequate for the others. Training time is not paid. That’s a breach. The Glens threaten any workers who doesn’t do it with disciplinary action. That’s a breach too.
Killing the environment – The cleaning product was 27 times the recommended safe dose. Burned employees’ skin, yet was poured down drains for over 6 months. Fuel is flushed down the drains too.
No breaks – Employees meal or rest breaks are not rostered. Some long serving staff say they have never had meal breaks – ever.
Listening in – Staff calls secretly monitored. Speakers in the ceiling that listen in on conversations.
Danger lurking – Fuel Tanks and LPG cylinders are left in the forecourt unattended overnight. The neighbours are terrified they are one match away from obliteration.
Robberies – One store hit twice. Employees assaulted. Cigarettes now locked up very securely. Nothing for workers. Not even a panic button in one store. Workers are very scared.
I have specific examples, but you get the picture. Many of these workers have offered to act as witnesses in any court case.
We need Justice For a Worker Sacked Because He Could No Longer Work Unpaid Hours
We accused the Glens of maliciously bullying a young father out of his Caltex job because he couldn’t continue to extra work for free. Raj’s wife had a baby. She needed to get a part-time job, and as such he needed to share parental duties. Of course, if the Glens had paid Raj for the 10-15 hours Michael demanded, his wife would not needed to find work.
After Raj refuse Michael’s demand he continue to free work, the Glens ran an orchestrated campaign to drive Raj out. He was forced on a six week forced Covid break, even though the petrol station was open over the lockdown and other staff were rostered. When Michael had to allow Raj to return, he was demoted from manager to forecourt attendant. When that didn’t work, Michael instigated a redundancy process due to a decline in sales “because of Covid”. No employee were targeted, except Raj. The lie was exposed when Raj provided evidence that showed business sales had actually increased over the lockdown.
After that sham feel apart, other employees were told not to engage with Raj. Michael would demean Raj publicly. I have read the medical file from Raj’s doctor. It is crystal clear there was a relentless campaign to break Raj.
In desperation, Raj met with Michael to complain about this treatment. According to Raj, Michael berated him and in the hearing of other staff, told him to leave the office. Raj said he could no longer tolerate the abuse and needed to go home. Michael loudly called out to all staff on duty that Raj “was walking away from his job” and claimed Raj was no longer employed because he had abandoned his job.
A Call for Justice
We must get justice for Raj. With your support we will.
The UTU for Workers Union was specifically set up to help workers from non-unionised workplaces. We believe “an injury to one is an injury to all.” We are made up of volunteers committed to stop workplace exploitation and abuse in New Zealand. Please join us here
*Raj is an alias for obvious reasons.
Company name: Killarney Holdings Ltd Christchurch t/a Caltex Redwood CHCH