Fair Work Ombusdman Report - Australia: CoS in breach

Emma

Con te partirò
Administrator
People were wondering earlier why it was so quiet on ESMB after the final report was released. This report from Tony Ortega pretty much sums it up:

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/09/scientology_dod.php

Scientology Dodges a Bullet in Australia: Church Told to Pay Workers, Says "We'll Get Right On That"
By Tony Ortega Fri., Sep. 16 2011 at 4:25 AM


Scientology watchers in Australia are still absorbing a stunning case of bait-and-switch Down Under.

Earlier this week, a "draft" report by that country's "Fair Work Ombudsman" was leaked which seemed to indicate that Scientology was on the verge of a world of hurt: after interviewing eight witnesses who complained of working long hours for little pay, the labor agency seemed convinced that Scientology is falsely calling employees "volunteers" and might actually be violating the country's anti-slavery laws.

Tonight, however, the "final" report of the Ombudsman was released, and it reads nothing like that earlier draft. (emphasis mine)

None of the eight witnesses were working for the church recently enough for their claims to matter, and only two of the witnesses were working for other church entities that can be investigated. And even those witnesses, the report says, were working voluntarily.

The document urges Scientology to audit itself and make sure it is paying people properly. Australia's ABC reports that the church, not surprisingly, says it will do so.

It's currently 4 in the morning here in New York, so it will be some time before I can reach Mike Rinder and other sources for reaction to this news.

Online reactions are muted. Members of Anonymous initially greeted the final report with some elation...

Oh. My. God. It is a thing of beauty and freedom and justice.​

But as they made their way through the lengthy document, it gradually began to dawn on some that the report was not what they had expected.

This isn't the huge, stake-thro-the-heart-of-the-Beast that we had hoped it would be​

No, indeed. It isn't.

The report spends several pages establishing that Scientology's various entities are constitutional corporations under Australian law and are subject to the labor agency's jurisdiction.

But then it goes through the case of each witness, some of whom haven't worked for Scientology since the 1980s. One after another, they are simply dismissed as evidence that is too old to consider.

One witness did work from 1998 to 2008 -- but said that work was voluntary, and the Ombudsman doesn't disagree.

Another witness was only 14 when she signed a billion-year contract and joined the hardcore Sea Org, would work from 9 in the morning until 3 or 4 the next morning, and once worked 72 hours straight -- but still, considered this voluntary work.

All of the tough language of the draft report -- that the Ombudsman didn't buy the church's claims that this work was voluntary, and that anti-slavery laws might be violated -- has been stripped out.

Instead, the report concludes with weak recommendations that Scientology should get its own house in order. With such get-tough sounding headings as, "What the Church of Scientology and workers might do to reduce further complaints," the report goes on to recommend that Scientology hire an auditor.

It would be prudent for the Church of Scientology to proactively undertake this self audit process at the earliest opportunity.

Oh, we're certain David Miscavige will get on that, straight away.

The FWO was "got at". :angry:
 

Zhent

Leakus Maximus
Did another re-read, this time noting some excerpts of interest:

Key Findings:

(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.

Background to this investigation:

8. There are three other business names registered in NSW; the Church of Scientology Mission of Chinatown, the Church of Scientology Mission of Inner West, and Church of Scientology Inc. According to a formal response from the Church of Scientology these entities are inactive.

We already knew the Chinatown mission was long dead, but its good to get confirmation the Mission of Inner West has died out as well. Also it was mentioned the 'Church of Scientology Inc' is infact the Adelaide Org, does this mean the Adelaide Org has died as well, or simply merged into other entities?

Does the FW Act apply from 1 January 2010?

37. The Church of Scientology Australia Inc, submitted that “it is inconceivable that the State referral of legislative powers to the Commonwealth was intended to cover those in Holy Orders and” that “it is inconceivable that the Fair Work Act as expanded by State referrals was intended to cover those in Holy Orders”.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has considered this argument and is not persuaded by it. The terms of the referring legislation are clear and attributing the ordinary meaning to their terms, there is no argument available to the Church of Scientology Australia Inc that the referrals do not cover religious organisations, such as theirs.

Nice smackdown there.

44. During the investigation process, evidence of financial trading by the Church of
Scientology was gathered as follows:

(a) the Church of Scientology has a book store located in Sydney, where Church of
Scientology literature is sold. The bookstore is owned by Church of Scientology
Australia Incorporated. That entity provided a figure of $60,409.66 as being the
monetary value of sales generated in the bookstore, for the period from 1 July 2010
to 31 October 2010 (a four month period).

(b) the 2009 Annual Summary of Financial Affairs of The Church of Scientology
Australia Inc filed with NSW Fair Trading discloses a turnover of $17.9 million and
net assets of $21.8 million.
See ANNEXURE 1.
(c) the 2010 Annual Summary of Financial Affairs of The Church of Scientology Mission
of Leichhardt Sydney (ABN 14 797 450 035) filed with NSW Fair Trading revealed a
turnover of $39,418.81. See ANNEXURE 2.
(d) A majority of witnesses interviewed by Fair Work Ombudsman described their
duties as including the selling of literature at a significant financial value. These
duties included cold canvassing and selling of this literature to people within the
Church of Scientology community. These individuals explained that the proceeds
from these sales went to the Church of Scientology and were utilised in the running
of the organisation.

....

Other means of generating income for Church of Scientology entities include
provision of services to Scientologists including counselling, auditing, training and
accreditation
associated with Scientology courses. Documentary evidence obtained includes a “Pricelist" outlining the cost for provision of these and other
services, ranging in price from $911.00 to $32,300.00.
The investigation found that
on leaving the Church of Scientology, Church members are sent „freeloader‟ bills
which detail monies owed to the Church of Scientology for provision of these
services. The Fair Work Ombudsman has also obtained records including invoices
charging Church of Scientology members for provision of course training.
Documentary evidence obtained includes provision of an “Advanced Program” to
assist a Scientology member “progress up the Bridge” at a cost in excess of
$65,000.00.


(g) Records obtained by the Fair Work Ombudsman show the total income of the
Church of Scientology Australia Inc for the calendar year 2009 was in excess of
$17.9 million dollars.
This total was derived, in part, from the following sources:
(i) book sales for the calendar year ending 2009 totalling in excess of $3.4
million dollars;

(ii) income derived from provision of services including training totalling in
excess of $11.5 million dollars;
(iii) interest received totalling in excess of $827,000;
(iv) canteen sales in excess of $25,000;
(v) As at December 2009, the Church of Scientology Australia Inc was in
receipt of a total surplus of over $8.5 million dollars.
(vi) Assets held by the Church of Scientology Australia Inc up to December
2009 include motor vehicles, cash, books and artefacts, and property
valued at in excess of $49 million dollars.
(h) The Church of Scientology Australia Mission of Leichhardt, as at 30 June 2010
generated income totalling $39,418.81 which was, in part, derived from the
following sources:
(i) from book sales totalling in excess of $5,000.00;
(ii) training services generating income in excess of $12,000.00;
(iii) processing services generating income in excess of $21,000.00


....

48. The Fair Work Ombudsman is satisfied the bookshop activities, in and of themselves,
constitute a significant or substantial part of the overall activities of the Church of
Scientology and that the Church of Scientology is therefore a trading corporation.

Not-for-profit? Hah!


FINDING 1

49. The Fair Work Ombudsman is satisfied that the Church of Scientology operate entities,
namely The Church of Scientology Australia Inc and The Church of Scientology Mission
of Leichhardt Sydney which engage in trading activities and on this basis these entities
are constitutional corporations for the purposes of the FW Act, and the Workplace
Relations Act 1996 from 27 March 2006, the predecessor legislation.

What is the status of the workers engaged by the entities?

62. Each witness had a significant relationship with the Church of Scientology entities, and in
some cases with Narconon and/or Get Off Drugs Naturally. It is clear from the evidence
that each performed work of some kind for one or more of these organisations for a
significant amount of time and that each was remunerated very poorly.
Each spoke of
maltreatment in the course of their relationship with the organisations and spoke of
extreme difficulty in ending their relationship.


67. The Church of Scientology describes the Class V and Sea Organization contracts as
being a pledge of religious commitment and not legally binding contracts. The Church
also asserts that “there isn‟t any worker relationship...or employer relationship”
Correspondence from the Church of Scientology entities assert „the Church is a religious
entity and does not have contracts relating to engagement”, but this is plainly contradicted by the documents themselves, as well as the statements made by the
complainants.
The language used within the Church of Scientology entities includes
references to workers being “staff”, or a “staff member”, and to those staff receiving
“pay”. For example numerous Church of Scientology policies and documents, which
form part of Church members required studies, refer to „staff‟ and „work‟.
Policy exists in
relation to ”Permanent staff member requirements”; which outlines “requirements” that
must be met in order to qualify for permanent staff membership and its benefits which
include “staff intensives, vacations, sick leave”.

68. The investigation disclosed staff are remunerated for their work, and in many cases, are
issued pay slips at the time of payment. For example, The Church of Scientology
Australia Inc (ABN 50 062 296 604) provided records to the Fair Work Ombudsman
demonstrating that it generates records of payments made to workers and in some
cases deducts PAYG tax from gross remuneration. In correspondence to the Fair Work
Ombudsman, The Church of Scientology Australia Inc describes these payments to
Church workers as being “a small amount to enable them to perform their duties by
covering the cost of travel, baby sitters, food and other expenses. However, this is not a
reward for services rendered”

This seems unlikely considering the wages are
calculated on the basis of (a) the position held by the worker and (b) whether work
targets were met. The tax, where deducted, appears to be consistent with the Australian
Taxation Office‟s PAYG schedules. There is little in the pay slips that would indicate
consistency with a volunteer relationship and instead, there is much that indicate
consistency with an employment relationship, other than the rate of pay.
Examples of
the payslips are shown at ANNEXURE 9 (with personal information removed).

Some more nice smackdown over volunteers vs. employees


74. The investigation established several features of arrangements in the Church of
Scientology entities which are not consistent with volunteer or voluntary work
arrangements, and which point to the arrangements being a contract of services, and
therefore potentially subject to the FW Act.
In particular, witness evidence indicates that
significant hours of work were imposed on workers of the Church of Scientology. Further
this evidence indicates a significant level of control and direction was applied to workers
by more senior Church of Scientology members who held positions of authority. This
level of control extended to the control of an individual‟s hours of work and the nature of
the work performed by members of the Church of Scientology,
including the undertaking
of labouring work during renovations of Church of Scientology premises at Greek Street,
Sydney; tiling, painting, cleaning dumpsters and selling of Church of Scientology
publications via telephone sales. Further, witness evidence indicates the Church of
Scientology applies significant control over how the work is performed and to what
standard the work is completed.
The Fair Work Ombudsman takes into account the
following;

(a) ANNEXURE 7 shows summary position descriptions provided in response to the
Fair Work Ombudsman‟s Notices to Produce. These are referred to as “Post
Descriptions” and were provided by more than one of the entities involved in the
investigation. The “Post Descriptions” indicates various work functions performed
within the Church. On their own, they show only a bureaucratised organisation,
and one which has probably imported into Australia without great thought or
deliberation, practices and procedures that have been prepared under an entirely
different labour law regime, but in conjunction with other issues they indicate
working arrangements that have little or no consistency with volunteer or voluntary
work arrangements and instead are more consistent with employment
arrangements in the Australian context.


(b) ANNEXURE 8 shows several internal advertisements for the position of Auditor
which were provided in response to the Fair Work Ombudsman‟s Notices to
Produce. The advertisements refer to “staff” that receive “awful pay”, and ask
applicants to submit their application to a “Director of Personnel”. Further,
advertisements refer to joining “staff” and to contact “the Personnel Hotline”. The
way these advertisements are framed, it is improbable the relationships will be
consistent with being a volunteer or voluntary worker. The intent of the
advertisement is plainly to recruit “staff” who are remunerated with “pay”.
On their
own, the advertisements might fall into the category of containing a “mere puff”
statement, which by its nature, and in the context in which it is made, is not
intended to have legal relation but in conjunction with other issues they indicate
working arrangements which are more consistent with employment arrangements
than volunteer or voluntary work arrangements.

(c) ANNEXURE 9 also discloses sample payslip records recording PAYG tax
deductions. ANNEXURE 10 discloses a tax declaration form and ANNEXURE 11
presents a group certificate issued by the entity named Church of Scientology.

75. While these features are not at all consistent with volunteer or voluntary work
arrangements, and are more consistent with an employment contract, a determination
about whether an employment contract exists will only be possible on an individual basis.

Upon such analysis, it is possible that the nature of some individuals‟ arrangements with
the Church of Scientology entities is best described as voluntary, while others are best
described as employees.

78. On reviewing documents and records produced by the Church of Scientology to Fair
Work Ombudsman, it was found that whilst much of the policy and procedural
documentation appeared to have generated from the United States of America and other
foreign jurisdictions, it has been confirmed in testimonial and documentary evidence
supplied by witnesses that these documents are currently in use within the Church of
Scientology entities.

The Church of course, is stuck in Hubbard's 1960's America...


83. Evidence provided by the Church of Scientology in relation to payments made to Church
members between January 2010 and April 2010, in the Class V Organization, indicated
that payment amounts received ranged from $7.65 up to $321.75 per week. Evidence in
relation to hours of work of Class V Organization members, obtained from witness
testimonial, was described as being from Monday to Sunday. Specific daily start times
varied from 9.00am start to 6.00pm finish time, in some cases shifts ended up to 3.00am.


84. Evidence provided by witnesses and by the Church of Scientology in relation to
payments made to Church members in the Sea Organization between January 2010 and
April 2010 indicated that payment amounts received ranged from $10.00 to $190.00 per
week.
Evidence in relation to hours of work of Sea Organization members, obtained
from witness testimonial, was described as being from Monday to Sunday. Daily start
time was 9.00am start to 6.00pm finish time however additional hours were regularly
worked to complete tasks, which could result in the requirement to work up to 4.00am
the following day.


85. In contrast to these low rates of pay, the Federal Minimum Wage during the relevant
period for a full-time adult, before shift and weekend penalty loadings are added, was
$14.31 per hour from 1 July 2009 (or $543.78 per week for a 38 hour week).

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH - Staff are payed as low as $8 a week, SeaOrg are payed as low as $10. Hmm, wasn't Virginia Stewart claiming only yesterday all staff were paid a decent amount?

Its the statements like this coupled with the finances which totally shred Scientology and its claims of a not-for-profit that takes care of its members.

FINDING 15
107. For the reasons set out above, the Fair Work Ombudsman determines there will be no
further consideration of the claims made by witnesses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, as they
relate to the Church of Scientology.

FINDING 16
108. For the reasons set out above, the Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to investigate the
allegations made by Witness 4 as they relate to Narconon and Get Off Drugs Naturally.

FINDING 17
109. For the reasons set out above, the Fair Work Ombudsman will, pursuant to s.682(1)(e) of
the FW Act, refer to the relevant authorities for further investigation the relevant
information received about Witnesses 2 and 7.

FINDING 18
110. Whilst the Fair Work Ombudsman has determined enforcement action is not available
under the FW Act in relation to witnesses as they relate to work with the Church of
Scientology, this is not to say that the Church of Scientology has no employees or is not
capable of ever being an employing entity.

Sadly it seems none of the witnesses were in the right position for claims against CoS, though that is NOT to say others are in the same boat. Additionally the claims against Narconon are ongoing and other claims by witnesses (not relating to fair work) will be forwarded to the relevant authorities, so still some good stuff to look forward to.

What the Church of Scientology and workers might do to reduce further
complaints


111. While the Fair Work Ombudsman has determined that that no further action will be taken
in respect of the eight witnesses as they relate to the Church of Scientology entities, we
note that the Church of Scientology entities fall within the jurisdiction of the FW Act and its
predecessor the Workplace Relations Act 1996.


112. Considerable public resources have been expended in the investigation of the eight
workers who have been engaged by the Church of Scientology. In addition, the Fair Work
Ombudsman is currently investigating a further six complaints from workers relating to the
Church of Scientology.
The period of time to which the complaints relate extend over an
extensive period of time and is indicative of systemic problems relating to the way labour
has been obtained by the Church of Scientology which has caused these arrangements to
be the subject of external criticism.

113. Irrespective of the outcome of these matters, the Fair Work Ombudsman is concerned by
the number of complaints it has received from former Scientology workers. At the very
least, the volume of complaints should alert the Church of Scientology that there needs to
be a change to the current practices relating to how they recruit and receive free labour
from their followers, should they hope to reduce the number of complaints into the future.


114. 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 withdraw their labour if they perceive
that their relationship ceases to be truly voluntary, immediately.

115. In many instances, the witnesses provided considerable free labour to the Church of
Scientology 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 Church of Scientology designed to retain their
commitment. The Fair Work Ombudsman makes no findings in respect of those
allegations.
The Fair Work Ombudsman advises that if workers providing services to
religious or any other organisation consider that they are being subject to intimidation or
other illegal pressure to continue to provide their labour, they should contact police.

116. Future complaints received by Fair Work Ombudsman will be investigated on their merits.

Some nice encouraging words but no enforcement sadly. Also sadly from the paragraphs it appears the FWO does not fully understand the culture of a controlling cult - going to the police is not an option a regular SeaOrg will consider.

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.

Again some encouraging words, but the language does not suggests enforceable backing!?

This surely is the greatest failing of the report. It feels like a win for exposing some of the Scientology hypocrisy, but will it actually have any real world affect?

Edit: Tony Ortega has summed up some of this as posted above.
 

Petey C

Silver Meritorious Patron
Well I finished reading the report, though I am not too sure what to make of it.

There was certainly some great and and hard-hitting statements made by the FWO in relation to CoS practices, they are trading corporations bound by the FW act etc, however I was disappointed only 8 witnesses (ex's) came forward for the report, none of which apparently can have their claims forwarded. What happened to the 100's who left in the Australian exodus? Why were their voices and experiences not heard? Of course we now have the Class Action lawsuit, but if they didn't come forward for the investigation why participate now?

There were only those 8 who stood up in the first instance, even though some of them might have known that the FWO time limitation of six years would render them ineligible. IMO they were brave just to do that. Many others (eg me) might just have counted on their fingers and decided not to lodge a complaint.

HOWEVER. The report also says there are six other complaints that have been made since the Group of Eight, and I believe it also suggests that if others have complaints (regardless of whether their employment is within the stipulated time), they should come forward. The FWO says that it is clear that the CoS has been careless with its employment practices for a long, long time, and the report states concern about this longstanding situation.

Unfortunately there is also the situation of that thing "evidence" and unfortunately, a lot of people don't keep their evidence eg payslips, PAYG summaries and whatnot. Me included. Without it, it's hard to prove a case.

So -- all you guys, come forward. Even if you think you're not within the time frame. Go look in those boxes in the garage and dig up a payslip or two.

I can't answer your final question. It beats me.
 

scooter

Gold Meritorious Patron
Right now we have documentation in the public arena that has been gathered by a govt. body. It's detailing actual $s amounts that the cult is getting in and paying out.

We have never had that before - anywhere, as far as I know.

If you are asking will this lead to legislative change, I don't know.

But I do know that this report alone and the media generated by it have created several people I personally know (including two who are in the media in positions of influence) who are now incensed about the cult's abuses. And I suspect that there are plenty more who have been alerted to the cult by the ongoing exposure.

And we have the ABC taking a prominent role in this story - and they are watched by decision-makers in the nation's capital.

I said this before but I think it bears repeating - we didn't lose here, we just didn't get the huge win we were expecting after the draft. The cult clawed back something from a total disaster but it would have cost them $s and THAT is another story worth pursuing:biggrin:

And yes, "we" are on to it:coolwink:
 

Freeminds

Bitter defrocked apostate
Never forget the court of public opinion.

What does the average Bruce in the street think about an employer that manages to weasel its way out of paying a fair wage with legal technicalities, fancy lawyers and misleading statements? What does the average Sheila think about having to support Scientology victims when they reach retirement age or become sick, because they and their employers haven't been paying any taxes?

Even if it's going to be difficult to enforce, the simple fact is that the Scientology Cult has been told its practices were wrong, and that it is subject to the FW act. Continued weaseling on their part isn't going to improve their tattered reputation.

Also, there's still the class action to look forward to. And can a business that's had its "not for profit" status exposed as an outright lie (we've seen the numbers) still continue to claim charitable status elsewhere in the world, on the back of the COSRECI scam?

We'll see.

More to come.
 

lurkanon

Patron with Honors
People were wondering earlier why it was so quiet on ESMB after the final report was released. This report from Tony Ortega pretty much sums it up:

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/09/scientology_dod.php



The FWO was "got at". :angry:

Yep. Nothing new, has been going on for decades with inquiries (remember the 1960s)? and actions. At some point, people really need to understand that the Co$ is PROTECTED over almost the whole world, by government, courts, and law enforcement. There are a few minor exceptions, (Europe) but generally, they are protected. The evidence of this is over decades of attempts by people to bring this evil organization to justice.

The "authorities" are not on the side of the people. (With a few exceptions, eg Xenophon, Ursula Caberta, etc). They don't really care about us.

It is the way things work. The sooner people realise this, the better they will be equipped to know what they are dealing with.

http://youtu.be/QNJL6nfu__Q
 

Miss Pert

Silver Meritorious Patron
From report.....(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.


.......And then of course there are the CoS finances. WTF! Having serious trouble trying to wrap my head around this. The Leichhardt mission makes enough sense... $39418 income, $38478 expenses, $910 profit... easy and simple enough and clear indication that business is slow to say the least (a few hours auditing a week???)........

Funny thing is, I worked at the Leichhardt Mission, part time, for approximately 5 years. I think I earned more $ per hour in my time there working 6 hours a week than I did working at the Sydney org working 40 to 90 hours per week for 2 1/2 years.

While not what we all expected the report is still a win, and there are still others complaints to be handled it could be they will make a difference. Especially when part of their recruitment push was to tell people how much money they could be making once they became an Idle Org.

We've made an important step and now it's back to ...... tick tock, tick tock..... for a little longer :coolwink:
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
Some media:

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/br...h-of-scientology/story-e6frf7ko-1226139289378

THE Church of Scientology has fired up against the Fair Work Ombudsman saying it is being "misleading in the extreme".
The complaint follows a release to the media on the final findings of an investigation into whether church workers were paid properly.

Church legal counsel, Ms Louise McBride, said the media release was "misleading in the extreme".

"The central finding was positive for the Church: that none of the complainants are employees and were in fact volunteers," she said.

"We have contacted the FWO and asked they amend their media release."

"The finding makes suggestions about what the Church 'might do' but no orders have been made directing the Church to do anything," Ms McBride said.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigation was sparked by an ABC Four Corners program in March 2010, which raised allegations about the mistreatment and exploitation of some of the church's most loyal members.

A number of allegations made by witnesses came outside the statutory time limit for consideration, so they could not be pursued, the ombudsman's final report released today said.

Other allegations fell outside the ombudsman's jurisdiction and needed to be referred to other authorities, the report said.

The ombudsman called on the church to conduct a comprehensive audit to ensure all parts of the organisation complied with the Fair Work Act and to redress any cases where workers had been been underpaid.

http://www.news.com.au/business/bre...r-workplace-laws/story-e6frfkur-1226139258270

THE industrial umpire has told the Church of Scientology to hire an external expert to review its work practices after an 18-month probe into whether church workers were paid properly.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigation was sparked by an ABC Four Corners program in March 2010, which raised allegations about the mistreatment and exploitation of some of the church's most loyal members.

A number of allegations made by witnesses came outside the statutory time limit for consideration, so they could not be pursued, the ombudsman's final report released today said.

Other allegations fell outside the ombudsman's jurisdiction and needed to be referred to other authorities, the report said.

The ombudsman called on the church to conduct a comprehensive audit to ensure all parts of the organisation complied with the Fair Work Act and to redress any cases where workers had been been underpaid.

"It would be prudent for the Church of Scientology to proactively undertake this self-audit process at the earliest opportunity," the report said.

The church was directed to hire an external consultant to undertake an audit into whether its employees were underpaid and to rectify any shortfalls.

A draft report released by the ombudsman earlier this week found some workers were paid as little as $10 a week by the church, despite it earning more than $17 million in 2009.

It also found the church had incorrectly classified as volunteers or voluntary workers, people who were entitled to be classified as employees.

The church described the payments as "a small amount to enable (workers) to perform their duties by covering the cost of travel, babysitters, food and other expenses ... not a reward for services rendered", but the ombudsman's investigation found otherwise.

"However, the investigation found several features of the arrangements within the (Church of Scientology) were not consistent with volunteer or voluntary work," the ombudsman said in a statement.

"In particular, witness evidence indicates that significant hours of work were imposed on workers."

Further evidence indicated a significant level of control and direction was applied to workers by more senior church members who held positions of authority, he added.

The investigation found the Church of Scientology was "a bureaucratised organisation" which "appeared to have imported practices and procedures into Australia with little thought to workplace relations laws".

However, the church said it had been vindicated by the report.

"Staff of Scientology churches signed agreements to work as volunteers and are doing so freely, wishing to help their church and the wider community," its Australian president Vicki Dunstan said.

Asked if the church intended to hire an external consultant to review its workplace practices, a spokesman referred AAP to the ombudsman's full report.

In the report, the ombudsman said workers for religious or other organisations who believed they were subjected to intimidation or other illegal pressure to provide their labour should contact police.
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
Lateline should run something on it tonight - can someone catch it?

I can watch but can't record, I hope Zhent is around.

Edit: I just watched the Lateline segment and it is very good. They reference the ommission of the mentions of slavery that were in the Draft Report and Nick Xenophon also gives his views wondering why it's a "watered down version". Slater and Gordon (lawyers) say it is not a good outcome for scientology.
 
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I told you I was trouble

Suspended animation
It really is a PR world and the cult will be stinging badly from the 'out PR' that this report is achieving WW especially on top of everything else it has pulled in over the last few years.

Even if they were left alone now it would take decades to even start to recover from this type of bad publicity ... and they won't be getting left alone.

:no:

Staff that are being drilled right now on the exact wording they must use when responding to officials (potentially) questioning them, may stand up with us one day soon and admit that they were forced/coerced into doing so, do remember that OSA when you are stressing the staff out even more than usual, you just can't trust anyone these days, it's soooooo hard to get good slaves!

The days of this cult feeling smug and safe are long gone and they have to watch every move they make, because the world is watching them.



:yes:
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
It really is a PR world and the cult will be stinging badly from the 'out PR' that this report is achieving WW especially on top of everything else it has pulled in over the last few years.

Even if they were left alone now it would take decades to even start to recover from this type of bad publicity ... and they won't be getting left alone.

:no:

Staff that are being drilled right now on the exact wording they must use when responding to officials (potentially) questioning them, may stand up with us one day soon and admit that they were forced/coerced into doing so, do remember that OSA when you are stressing the staff out even more than usual, you just can't trust anyone these days, it's soooooo hard to get good slaves!

The days of this cult feeling smug and safe are long gone and they have to watch every move they make, because the world is watching them.



:yes:

:thumbsup: Love it!
 

xseaorguk

Patron Meritorious
even if the outcome manages to shake $cnup a little and start having to explain to people applying that they will not be earning anything, but are only volunteers.
That is agood thing.

Often when people got roped into working for the mission or org they were told that they could improve their money by selling books etc.

They also roped you into working there by exlpaining that your training and auditing would be free, which was a big lie, as that never happened.

It was a bit like this:

Staff-recruiter:
yeah, this is the "bridge to total Freedom", auditing and training and this is of course where you would like to be (pointing to the OT levels on the grade chart)

Public:
Wow, yeh, I would really like to be "cause over life" and go OT as soon as possible, as that would be the best solution to my problems and best for all dynamics.

Staff-recruiter:
Well, if you joined staff then you would get your training and auditing free.

Public:
You mean I would not have to pay anything?

Staff recruiter:
No, its free.
So when you want to start up and join, right now, or later this evening?
Here is the form for becoming staff, just sign here.
Bla bla..etc etc....(hard sell)


They even recruited people into the SO at Saint Hill UK to become Class 12 auditors.
I remember the middle aged (around 1980) couple Noel Gordon and his wife, they were on the EPF just after me.
They soon realized that they bad been conned into giving up everything, sold their house etc to join the SO.
I think to this day their 1 daughter is still looking for her brother, who was only a teen at the time, who got caught up in the mess, and is now disconnected from his parents.
Such a crime, and such deceit:yes:
The lies must stop
 

Cherished

Silver Meritorious Patron
If they had decided that Jordan Anderson (witness 7) was an employee, I believe the report would have closely resembled the draft.

She was the only worker for the CoS who was within the limitation period and the FWO's jurisdiction.

Because they decided she was a volunteer, wrongly, I believe, they don't yet have evidence that one person was an employee and was underpaid. Therefore, they don't have any evidence:

a) that they have jurisdiction (the FWO only has jurisdiction re employees, not volunteers); or
b) of breach of the Fair Work Act.

So, they had no power to issue any compliance notice.

The decision about Jordan was wrong because they gave primacy to her intention when the objective facts all contradict the finding of voluntariness.

That is a heavy load for a worker to bear. Also, she was 14 years and 9 months old at the time. She needed to be questioned very carefully to extract her understanding.

The report is not binding on the parties and sets no precedent outside the FWO's office.

The class action can proceed.

Also, there are a number (half a dozen or so) other workers yet to be interviewed. The FWO began ringing around yesterday and making appointments.

I expect that, once the FWO finds the first "employee", it will move into a compliance mode.
 

TG1

Angelic Poster
IANAL.

However, I am a marketing expert. All societal, political and cutural changes are merely marketing challenges. (So sue me.)

I confidently predict that (a) these differences 'twixt the draft vs. final and (b) the Church of Scientology's nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah crowing that this report found nothing substantively wrong with the Church's hiring and labor practices, will look to the general public (and the media WILL make it look this way!) like the Church of Scientology "got to" someone with their expensive lawyers (and God knows what other pressures). This will have the effect of outraging the Aussie public even more than a final report that looked like the draft would have outraged them.

This is not over. Not by a long shot. And chances are it will go even worse for the church, if possible, than the draft-as-final report would have caused.

Final comment: Whoever released that draft report was a fucking genius! That's all I'm gonna say about that.

TG1
 

Mike Laws

Patron Meritorious
I am tending to agree with Cherished and TG1.

If the report was too strongly worded and too aggressive, would have given more ground to overturn and fight. It states there is a problem from a government body. It opens the door to a class action. The cos can't fight it because they have already publicly announced they are delighted with it. It changes the way they have to deal with the staff they have, and with new hires. See how many people will join with out the promise of being paid for what they produce, that they are volunteers and may get nothing. This may or may not have a significant impact.

It also brings to light a point that many people, especially young people or poorly educated people don't understand what is legal and illegal. They don't realize that Australia is a fairly socialist country with heavy worker rights. This is almost a profound problem. I didn't know many of the things that happened to me or were "normal" were in fact illegal. A decade out and I am still learning and realizing that I don't know so much of the law, and things I thought were acceptable or insignificant while I was in were in fact illegal.

I was 15 when I joined the SO. A 15 year old doesn't know or understand a whole lot of the law, civil rights and liberties. My understanding of what I was getting into was wrong, yet I stayed in for more than a decade. I did not know how society worked, what rights I had, or that any civil or regulatory agencies were in support of my personal rights. Really, while in, I considered society was conspiring against us.
 

Mike Laws

Patron Meritorious
As TG1 mentioned, the contrast between the first report and the second tells its own story. This should have its own consequences.

No one seems to have brought up the concept that OSA themselves may have released the draft report, expecting the final to be devastating to them, as part of a PR or Legal strategy to discredit the later as biased.
 
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