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Fair Work Ombusdman Report - Australia: CoS in breach

Discussion in 'Australia and New Zealand' started by bpsyd, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. bpsyd

    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:

    The full report is here: Narconon and Get off Drugs Naturally.pdf

    Happy reading.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011
  2. Infinite

    Infinite Troublesome Internet Fringe Dweller

  3. I told you I was trouble

    I told you I was trouble Suspended animation



    From the media release.

    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.

  4. Div6

    Div6 Crusader

    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.
  5. Petey C

    Petey C Silver Meritorious Patron

    Man, you guys are on the ball!
  6. Dulloldfart

    Dulloldfart Squirrel Extraordinaire

    Great. :)

    So how does the final report differ from the draft report?

  7. Cherished

    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: Sep 16, 2011
  8. Zhent

    Zhent Leakus Maximus

  9. Lohan2008

    Lohan2008 Gold Meritorious Patron

    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 ?
  10. Free to shine

    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.

  11. lotus

    lotus stubborn rebel sheep!

    Should report that to the


    Commission for citizens human rights

    they will take care of this human right issue !
  12. Lohan2008

    Lohan2008 Gold Meritorious Patron

    Re: Fair Work Ombusdman Report

    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.
  13. mate

    mate Patron Meritorious

    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.

  14. Kutta

    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:
  15. Div6

    Div6 Crusader

    No worries, Mate. I see what they are doing here.
  16. Free to shine

    Free to shine Shiny & Free

    It's a good start :) Narconon and Get off Drugs Naturally.pdf

  17. Cherished

    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.
  18. Free to shine

    Free to shine Shiny & Free

    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:
  19. Freeminds

    Freeminds Bitter defrocked apostate

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

    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.