Fair Work Ombusdman Report - Australia: CoS in breach

bpsyd

Patron
Fair Work Ombudsman Report - Australia: CoS in breach

The final report has just been released.

Inter Alia:


  • The Statement of Findings says the Fair Work Ombudsman considered, but was not persuaded, by submissions from the CoS that the Fair Work Act did not apply because the church “is a religious entity ... and there isn’t any worker relationship or employer relationship”.
  • The Statement says documents and policies examined by Fair Work inspectors during the course of their investigation “plainly contradicted” this assertion.
  • The CoS described payments to church workers as being “a small amount to enable them to perform their duties by covering the cost of travel, babysitters, food and other expenses ... not a reward for services rendered”.
  • However, the investigation found several features of the arrangements within the CoS entities were not consistent with volunteer or voluntary work.
  • “In particular, witness evidence indicates that significant hours of work were imposed on workers. Further evidence indicates a significant level of control and direction was applied to workers by more senior church members who held positions of authority,” the Statement of Findings says.
  • The Statement says documents provided by the CoS indicate it is a “bureaucratised organisation” which appears to have imported practices and procedures into Australia with little thought to workplace relations laws.
  • Witnesses told the Fair Work Ombudsman they were directed to work up to 72 hours without a break to complete tasks assigned to them for as little as $10 a week at a time when the Federal Minimum Wage for a full-time adult before shift and weekend penalties was $543.78 for a 38-hour week.
  • The Statement of Findings says the complaints that have been investigated, and the receipt of further complaints, is indicative of systemic problems relating to the way labour has been obtained by the CoS and which has caused these arrangements to be the subject of external criticism.
  • "At the very least, the volume of complaints should alert the CoS that there needs to be a change to the current practices relating to how they recruited and are receiving free labour from their followers, should they hope to reduce the number of complaints into the future,” the Statement says.
  • “Equally, the Fair Work Ombudsman offers advice to persons giving their labour for free to any religious organisation that they should be mindful of their intentions in doing so and to the extent possible, protect their own interests and immediately withdraw their labour if they perceive that their relationship ceases to be truly voluntary.
  • “In many instances, the witnesses provided considerable free labour to the CoS over a period of several years where they either knew or ought to have known that they were unlikely to be paid for that work from an early stage.
  • “Some claimed the use of unconscionable tactics by the CoS designed to retain their commitment. The Fair Work Ombudsman makes no findings in respect of those allegations, but advises that if workers providing services to religious or any other organisation consider that they are being subjected to intimidation or other illegal pressure to continue to provide their labour, they should contact police.”
The full media statement is here: http://www.fairwork.gov.au/media-ce...Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=NewsTW

The full report is here: http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Document...logy Narconon and Get off Drugs Naturally.pdf

Happy reading.
 
Last edited:

I told you I was trouble

Suspended animation



Phew!

:clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:

From the media release.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says his Office will continue to investigate future complaints against the CoS on their merits and may, if required, exercise its powers to attend work sites and observe the duties of employees. Other powers available to his Office may also be considered where the circumstances warrant. These include the use of powers to require documents, the issuing of formal compliance or infringement notices and the consideration of litigation.


I feel as if I might be dreaming all of this, the church of scientology has just been 'COMM EV'D and sent to the RPF' ... by SP's.

They fully deserve it, unlike the people that they still have under lock and key.




:yes:
 

Div6

Crusader
Off the cuff, it seems pretty weak, BUT the key point seems to be this:

(a) The Church of Scientology operates the entities The Church of Scientology Australia Inc and The Church of Scientology Mission of Leichhardt Sydney which engage in trading activities and are constitutional corporations for the purposes of the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act), and predecessor legislation, the Workplace Relations Act 1996.
(b) The Church of Scientology Australia Inc and The Church of Scientology Mission
of Leichhardt Sydney are subject to the FW Act, insofar as it is an employer or prospective employer as follows;
(i) in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Northern Territory (NT) and
Victoria – from before 27 March 2006;
(ii) in Western Australia (WA), New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (QLD) ,
South Australia (SA), Tasmania (Tas) – from 27 March 2006.

It is the substance of finding B that opens the door to potential legal (class action) cases.

Not exactly "Cry Havoc!" but it does allow the unleashing of "the Hounds of War" (ie: lawyers).

Let the games begin.
 

Cherished

Silver Meritorious Patron
I'm going to keep most of my observations about the report private and share them on a "need to know" basis.

A couple of comments I'd like to make are:

The findings have no legal weight. They are not a precedent. They simply establish the approach of the FWO to the Church's labour issues.

Changed my mind!! This is not a win for the Church!!

Now we go to court.
 
Last edited:

Lohan2008

Gold Meritorious Patron
p60.
I will not associate with with former members not in good standing, or been expelled or declared.

I am sure the Australian constitution guarantees freedom of association. Doesn't that void the membership form ?
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
Here's the whole media release:
The actual report is 88 pages so you'll need to click through from the opening post for that.

Media release
16 September 2011
Fair Work Ombudsman releases findings of investigation into Church of Scientology

The Fair Work Ombudsman today released the findings of a lengthy investigation into allegations levelled publicly at the Church of Scientology (CoS) over its employment practices.

The Agency initiated an investigation into the CoS on March 9, 2010, following claims raised the previous night by the ABC’s Four Corners program.

Further allegations about CoS workplace practices were made in the Senate on March 18, 2010, after which the names and contact details of a number of witnesses were provided confidentially to the Fair Work Ombudsman to assist the Agency with its inquiries.

The investigation considered whether the CoS is bound to apply minimum working conditions stemming from the Fair Work Act, awards or agreements and if it is required to keep certain time and wage records.

It also considered whether those people working for the church are employees and whether they have been receiving the benefits to which they are entitled under the Fair Work Act, awards or agreements.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson today released a Statement of Findings following consideration of feedback from the parties involved, who were previously provided with a draft report for comment.

The Agency has determined:

To treat CoS entities which engage in trading activities as constitutional corporations for the purposes of the Fair Work Act and its predecessor legislation,
That a number of allegations raised by some witnesses fall outside the statutory time limit for consideration or cannot be sustained and are therefore unable to be pursued,
To continue to investigate allegations raised by one witness which relates to an entity known as Get off Drugs Naturally,
To refer to other relevant authorities allegations made against the CoS which fall outside its jurisdiction, and
To request that the CoS and its related entities conduct a comprehensive self-audit to ensure compliance with the Fair Work Act – and if employees are found to have been underpaid, for those underpayments to be rectified.

The report says it would be prudent for the CoS to proactively undertake the self-audit at the earliest opportunity using a consultant that the Fair Work Ombudsman approves and who has no connection to the church.

It requests the consultant be briefed to:

Review the procedures for the engagement of workers and to properly determine the applicable Modern Award and National Employment Standards for each individual,
Review the status of existing employees to ensure they are receiving their lawful entitlements,
Recommend the introduction of changes to record-keeping and issuing of play slips and the Fair Work Information Statement to ensure compliance with the Fair Work Act, and
Recommend a framework to the Church which enables the identification of relevant legislation relating to all employee entitlements, such as long service leave.

The Statement of Findings says the Fair Work Ombudsman considered, but was not persuaded, by submissions from the CoS that the Fair Work Act did not apply because the church “is a religious entity ... and there isn’t any worker relationship or employer relationship”.

The Statement says documents and policies examined by Fair Work inspectors during the course of their investigation “plainly contradicted” this assertion.

The CoS described payments to church workers as being “a small amount to enable them to perform their duties by covering the cost of travel, babysitters, food and other expenses ... not a reward for services rendered”.

However, the investigation found several features of the arrangements within the CoS entities were not consistent with volunteer or voluntary work.

“In particular, witness evidence indicates that significant hours of work were imposed on workers. Further evidence indicates a significant level of control and direction was applied to workers by more senior church members who held positions of authority,” the Statement of Findings says.

The Statement says documents provided by the CoS indicate it is a “bureaucratised organisation” which appears to have imported practices and procedures into Australia with little thought to workplace relations laws.

Witnesses told the Fair Work Ombudsman they were directed to work up to 72 hours without a break to complete tasks assigned to them for as little as $10 a week at a time when the Federal Minimum Wage for a full-time adult before shift and weekend penalties was $543.78 for a 38-hour week.

The Statement of Findings says the complaints that have been investigated, and the receipt of further complaints, is indicative of systemic problems relating to the way labour has been obtained by the CoS and which has caused these arrangements to be the subject of external criticism.

"At the very least, the volume of complaints should alert the CoS that there needs to be a change to the current practices relating to how they recruited and are receiving free labour from their followers, should they hope to reduce the number of complaints into the future,” the Statement says.

“Equally, the Fair Work Ombudsman offers advice to persons giving their labour for free to any religious organisation that they should be mindful of their intentions in doing so and to the extent possible, protect their own interests and immediately withdraw their labour if they perceive that their relationship ceases to be truly voluntary.

“In many instances, the witnesses provided considerable free labour to the CoS over a period of several years where they either knew or ought to have known that they were unlikely to be paid for that work from an early stage.

“Some claimed the use of unconscionable tactics by the CoS designed to retain their commitment. The Fair Work Ombudsman makes no findings in respect of those allegations, but advises that if workers providing services to religious or any other organisation consider that they are being subjected to intimidation or other illegal pressure to continue to provide their labour, they should contact police.”

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says his Office will continue to investigate future complaints against the CoS on their merits and may, if required, exercise its powers to attend work sites and observe the duties of employees. Other powers available to his Office may also be considered where the circumstances warrant. These include the use of powers to require documents, the issuing of formal compliance or infringement notices and the consideration of litigation.

Statement of Findings: Church of Scientology, Narconon, and Get off Drugs Naturally (pdf 4MB)

Media inquiries:

Craig Bildstien, Director, Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484
 

lotus

stubborn rebel sheep!
Should report that to the

CCHR

Commission for citizens human rights

they will take care of this human right issue !
 

Lohan2008

Gold Meritorious Patron
Re: Fair Work Ombusdman Report

Now we go to court.

Who is "we" ?

Chereished you do not speak those who due compensation for working 100' hr weeks over years. The Ombusdman has spoken, CofS has to comply.
Slater & Gordon are representing cases that each will result in Multi-Million lawsuit.
 

mate

Patron Meritorious
Off the cuff, it seems pretty weak, BUT the key point seems to be this:



It is the substance of finding B that opens the door to potential legal (class action) cases.

Not exactly "Cry Havoc!" but it does allow the unleashing of "the Hounds of War" (ie: lawyers).

Let the games begin.

Au contraire, it is the perfect approach, no doubt being fully aware of Slater and Gordon undertaking a class action against the CofS. The Fair Work Ombudsman would not have the legal skills of Slater and Gordon particularly as the legal action could well proceed ultimately to the High Court of Australia and of course, the judge's ruling becomes common law.

The tactics are, IMHO, absolutely brilliant.

David.
 

Kutta

Silver Meritorious Patron
I'm just so proud of you Aussies. I don't know what happened but I just burst into tears of happiness. :yes:
 

Div6

Crusader
Au contraire, it is the perfect approach, no doubt being fully aware of Slater and Gordon undertaking a class action against the CofS. The Fair Work Ombudsman would not have the legal skills of Slater and Gordon particularly as the legal action could well proceed ultimately to the High Court of Australia and of course, the judge's ruling becomes common law.

The tactics are, IMHO, absolutely brilliant.

David.

No worries, Mate. I see what they are doing here.

http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/-/watch/26629302/scientology-volunteers-fight-back/
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
It's a good start :)
http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Document...logy Narconon and Get off Drugs Naturally.pdf

What should happen next?
118. The Fair Work Ombudsman proposes to action the following:
(a) Refer where appropriate the allegations made by witnesses which fall outside of
the jurisdiction of the Fair Work Ombudsman to the relevant Commonwealth and
State authorities for consideration in accordance with s.s.682(1)(e) and s.718 of
the FW Act;
(b) Continue the investigation involving Witness 4 relating to Narconon and Get Off
Drugs Naturally;
(c) The Fair Work Ombudsman requests the Church of Scientology to conduct a self
audit of all workers to identify what awards and industrial instruments apply. In
particular, the Fair Work Ombudsman considers the following measures may be
appropriate to be contained within any self audit activity;
To appoint at their cost a consultant who has no connection with the Church of
Scientology, and which is approved by the Fair Work Ombudsman. The consultant
will have the brief to:
(i) review the procedures for the engagement of workers, so those procedures can
properly distinguish between, and record, the terms of engagement, and which, if
any, Modern Award applies to their engagement, together with which aspects of
the National Employment Standards apply to the individual‟s circumstances;
(ii) review the status of those workers presently engaged to identify those workers who
are employees, and to ensure that those employees receive their entitlements;
(iii) recommend the introduction of changes to record-keeping and the issuing of pay
slips and the Fair Work Information Statement (s.61(2)(j) of the FW Act) so those
procedures conform with the requirement of the FW Act; and
(iv) recommend a framework to the Church of Scientology that enables the
identification of relevant State or Territory legislation that applies in relation to
accrual of other entitlements such as Long Service Leave to ensure that all
workers receive their full entitlements in accordance with all workplace laws.
119. It would be prudent for the Church of Scientology to proactively undertake this self audit
process at the earliest opportunity.
 

Cherished

Silver Meritorious Patron
Changed my mind!! This is not a win for the Church!!

The FWO has given primacy to the "intentions" of the workers over the objective evidence. ie. although the documents suggest the relationship was employment, if the worker thought they were volunteering, then they will decide that the person was a volunteer.
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
Changed my mind!! This is not a win for the Church!!

The FWO has given primacy to the "intentions" of the workers over the objective evidence. ie. although the documents suggest the relationship was employment, if the worker thought they were volunteering, then they will decide that the person was a volunteer.

No love it's not a win for them....

The very thought of a consultant and deciding 'employment status' is HUGE HUGE HUGE! :happydance:

ps I kinda didn't understand what you said, can you splain in little words for my tired brain ? :biggrin:
 

Freeminds

Bitter defrocked apostate
ohyeahtomanddaverun2.jpg

(Surreal embodiment of jubilation. Breakthrough. Possible Kool-Aid reference. TL;DR version is simply: "Oh yeah!")
 

Petey C

Silver Meritorious Patron
I think that there are some major advances, such as the FWO's finding that the CoS is a trading organisation, that even as a church they are bound by the FW Act (within time limitations) and other earlier legislation, that the CoS's blanket denial that their "staff" are all "volunteers" should not be taken as a given, that there are six other claims before the FWO, that the Ombudsman has serious concerns about a longstanding pattern in the CoS's employment practices, etc. Even though most of the witnesses' claims aren't getting up because of time limitations, one still is -- and it only takes one spark to light a fire.

I'm optimistic that this report, together with the Slater & Gordon suit, will make a difference.
 
Top