Companies sentenced after worker pressured to lie about accident

By and is republished with permission

A demolition worker who broke his back in multiple places after a workplace accident has seen the companies involved – who asked him to lie about his employment – sentenced in court today.

Mōsese Fōketi

It comes after Mosese Foketi took the Mac Group and its subcontractor, JNP Construction, to court after they tried to influence a WorkSafe investigation.

Angus McDonald, the boss of Mac Group Demolition Company and a colleague visited Foketi at his home after he was discharged from hospital.

They wanted him to tell WorkSafe he wasn’t involved in the demolition.

“If they do come and have a chat, you know you know what to say, and its basically, its just that you are only there to load the waste out, and it was just a year, pulled on a piece of wood, and that was it,” Foketi caught McDonald saying.

After 1News broke the story last year, WorkSafe reopened the investigation, finding there weren’t good systems in place and Mac Group, along with JNP Construction, hadn’t looked after the health and safety of its workers.

“Mosese has been vindicated that he did nothing wrong,” WorkSafe’s Paul West said.

“Those two companies have owned up to their failings in court, and we have had a vulnerable worker who is able to get some resolution out of this case.”

Mac Group were fined $105,000 and ordered to pay $35,900 in reparations, while JNP Construction were fined $6000 and ordered to pay $18,400 in reparations.

While Foketi still faces ongoing surgeries and pain, he said seeing justice served is helping.

“People who have the same situation as me, don’t be scared to step up and speak up. You have the right to do that,” he said.

We are pretty happy with it, especially as both companies plead guilty,” his partner Faava Toalepai said.

Taking on the companies was a big deal, as Foketi was an overstayer and risked deportation, but immigration advisor Richard Small managed to get that changed after hearing how he’d been treated.

“Our focus was getting him an exploited worker visa,” Small said.

“He is now a proud New Zealand resident and a dad, and his family now has a secure future, and we are delighted about that.”

It comes at the right time, as Foketi and his partner just welcomed a baby five months ago.

“Everything I am doing is for my kids to take care of my kids so they have a better future,” he said.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

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