A ROMANIAN worker given a job at a Carlisle car wash firm told a jury his payslips did not reflect the reality of his usual 11-hour working days.

The man was testifying at the city’s crown court in the trial of three people who are accused of modern day slavery offences, allegedly forcing their workers at the Warwick Road Shiny Car Wash to work long hours, with no protective clothing, for low pay.

Brothers Defrim Paci, 40, and Jetmir Paci, 35, and Sitar Ali, 31, who lives in Carlisle, have all denied conspiring to compel people to carry out forced labour; and conspiring to facilitate the travel of Romanian workers for the purpose of exploitation.

Up to a dozen were also forced as a condition of their job to live in a dirty, cold, rat-infested Carlisle house, the jury has heard.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, one former worker said he heard about the Shiny Car Wash job from a friend already working at the business.

Asked how long his typical working day was, the worker said: “Eleven hours per day. The working hours were the same every day. I started at 8am, and I finished at 7pm.” At weekends, he said, staff could leave work an hour earlier at 6pm.

The man said he worked between five and seven days per week. It was the man known as Sitar who decided his working hours, he said.

Prosecutor Martin Reid asked the man about the pay that he earned while working at the car wash at certain times in 2017. “When you began working at the car wash,” asked Mr Reid, “how much were you paid per day?”

The witness replied: “£30 per day - for 11 hours.”

After some time, that rate was raised to £45 per day, still on the basis of an 11 hour working day.

The man confirmed that he was given pay slips by his bosses but Mr Reid went through several of these with the witness, pointing out that one, for February, 2017, recorded that he was paid an hourly rate of £7.20 for a monthly hours total of 152.

Mr Reid asked: “Does this document reflect the hours you were working in February, 2017?” The man replied: “The reality was totally different.”

Questioned further, the man said he paid no national insurance contributions - and never received an NI number until after he had left the business.

The man was then asked whether he was aware of any income tax being deducted from his wage at the Shiny Car Wash while he worked at the Warwick Road business.

He replied: “No.” Other pay slips also failed to reflect the reality of the hours he worked at the business, he said. Wage slips for January and February recorded that he was working seven or eight hours a day during those months, but in reality he was working 11 hours per day.

The pay slips also claimed he was paid £7.50 per hour.

Asked when he first received pay slips from his employer, he said: “In November, 2016 - after police and immigration investigators attended the premises. They asked about our hours and conditions and how much we were getting paid.”

In earlier evidence, the wtiness said Sitar took his identity card when he arrived in Carlisle but returned it to him after a few hours. He also had to hand over a £150 deposit. Asked why this was done, the man told the jury: “It was a guarantee that he would not be left without staff.”

Sitar Ali, of Adelaide Street, Carlisle, who also denies money laundering, insisted he treated staff well. Prosecutors say some staff suffered skin problems because they were not given protective clothing while working with “aggressive” chemicals, washing up to 400 cars per day.

Mr Reid told the court the defendants were collectively involved in the business. Defrim Paci’s address was given as Windmill Close, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire; and Jetmir Paci’s as Minimum Terrace Chesterfield.

The trial continues.