Workplace Ombudsman

Neo

Silver Meritorious Patron
In the expose on Today Tonight into child labour abuses within the Melbourne Scientology Org, a mention was made of both the Workplace Ombudsman, and the Employment Department, of the Victorian Government.

Both of these Government agencies have been contacted, regarding the above story. The ball has already begun rolling on this.

However, before I did this interview, I had personally contacted the Workplace Ombudsman, with a detailed letter of my experience as a staff member of the Church of Scientology here in Melbourne. I included a copy of the contract. This is available on the internet, I don't have a link handy, perhaps someone could help out here.

I heard back from the Workplace Ombudsman within a few days. They forwarded the contract onto their lawyers. I have been contacted since with more questions. I have forwarded copies of my tax group certificates, and examples of pay slips (I kept all of them - hey I'm a Virgo).

There were people on this board who encouraged this action by posting details. DavidM, and asagai were both instrumental in putting relevant data onto this message board that I could use to act with.

I looked into the matter, and based on my understanding of the legal definition of the terms 'employee' and 'volunteer', I decided to act.

From the Australian Taxation Office website http://www.ato.gov.au
and from a pdf file called TAX BASICS FOR NON-PROFIT ORGANISATIONS
Section 4 - Employees and Other Workers

Meaning of volunteer
There is no legal definition of ‘volunteer’ for tax purposes.

Meaning of employee
Generally, an individual is considered to be an employee if they:
■ are paid for time worked
■ receive paid leave (for example, sick, annual or recreation,
or long service leave)
■ are not responsible for providing the materials or equipment
required to do their job
■ must perform the duties of their position
■ agree to provide their personal services
■ work hours set by an agreement or award
■ are recognised as part and parcel of the payer’s business, and
■ do not take commercial risks and cannot make a profit or loss
from the work performed.

And per the definition of employee, I felt that Scientology staff members qualify as such. Therefore I have informed the department, and this is in action, right now.

I will let you know how this develops.
 

Emma

Con te partirò
Administrator
In the expose on Today Tonight into child labour abuses within the Melbourne Scientology Org, a mention was made of both the Workplace Ombudsman, and the Employment Department, of the Victorian Government.

Both of these Government agencies have been contacted, regarding the above story. The ball has already begun rolling on this.

However, before I did this interview, I had personally contacted the Workplace Ombudsman, with a detailed letter of my experience as a staff member of the Church of Scientology here in Melbourne. I included a copy of the contract. This is available on the internet, I don't have a link handy, perhaps someone could help out here.

I heard back from the Workplace Ombudsman within a few days. They forwarded the contract onto their lawyers. I have been contacted since with more questions. I have forwarded copies of my tax group certificates, and examples of pay slips (I kept all of them - hey I'm a Virgo).

There were people on this board who encouraged this action by posting details. DavidM, and asagai were both instrumental in putting relevant data onto this message board that I could use to act with.

I looked into the matter, and based on my understanding of the legal definition of the terms 'employee' and 'volunteer', I decided to act.

From the Australian Taxation Office website http://www.ato.gov.au
and from a pdf file called TAX BASICS FOR NON-PROFIT ORGANISATIONS
Section 4 - Employees and Other Workers

Meaning of volunteer
There is no legal definition of ‘volunteer’ for tax purposes.

Meaning of employee
Generally, an individual is considered to be an employee if they:
■ are paid for time worked
■ receive paid leave (for example, sick, annual or recreation,
or long service leave)
■ are not responsible for providing the materials or equipment
required to do their job
■ must perform the duties of their position
■ agree to provide their personal services
■ work hours set by an agreement or award
■ are recognised as part and parcel of the payer’s business, and
■ do not take commercial risks and cannot make a profit or loss
from the work performed.

And per the definition of employee, I felt that Scientology staff members qualify as such. Therefore I have informed the department, and this is in action, right now.

I will let you know how this develops.

Soooo......

In a nutshell, you can't turn up to work EVERY DAY as contracted, do a regular job, pay regular taxes and get sick & annual leave, and be called a volunteer.

And if you are NOT a volunteer, then you are an employee. And if you are an employee you are covered by minimum wage agreements.

Could the slave labour days of the cult be numbered?
 

sallydannce

Gold Meritorious Patron
Soooo......

In a nutshell, you can't turn up to work EVERY DAY as contracted, do a regular job, pay regular taxes and get sick & annual leave, and be called a volunteer.

And if you are NOT a volunteer, then you are an employee. And if you are an employee you are covered by minimum wage agreements.

Could the slave labour days of the cult be numbered?

And that last sentence is KEY because without the slave labour, the sound of crumbling cult becomes deafening! Without the blood, sweat & tears of the slave labour force, there is very little left.

Jeez I feel quite emotional about this.
 

asagai

Patron Meritorious
Add to your list, Emma, Freeloader Bills for breaking a "voluntary" work contract! :roflmao:
 

Neo

Silver Meritorious Patron
Soooo......

In a nutshell, you can't turn up to work EVERY DAY as contracted, do a regular job, pay regular taxes and get sick & annual leave, and be called a volunteer.

And if you are NOT a volunteer, then you are an employee. And if you are an employee you are covered by minimum wage agreements.

Could the slave labour days of the cult be numbered?

Yes - my last line of the interview was 'Scientology is a business, operating as a cult, pretending to be a religion'. It was a nice sound bite for a show like Today Tonight, I thought, LOL.

But this is exactly what we a dealing with. Make them play by the same rules as all other businesses.
 

Neo

Silver Meritorious Patron
Add to your list, Emma, Freeloader Bills for breaking a "voluntary" work contract! :roflmao:

And the OSA spokesperson said to Brian (the journalist) when asked about children signing these contracts, after some silence:

"Well those contracts don't mean anything anyway".

You got that right.
 

gomorrhan

Gold Meritorious Patron
Don't start clapping yet. I agree that this is an important movement, and I applaud Neo for becoming active. I consider there will be a lengthy investigation/appeal, legal action concerning this, with lots of weaseling by the "Church". I think the eventual outcome is possibly still in doubt, though, due to the longstanding tolerance of the Catholic Church and other organizations which have permanent, housed staff that are volunteers. You can be sure that the Church will cling to these arguments as long as it is fiscally worthwhile to do so. Nonetheless, without this motion, the challenge would never be brought, and it does need to be brought.
 

asagai

Patron Meritorious
Don't start clapping yet. I agree that this is an important movement, and I applaud Neo for becoming active. I consider there will be a lengthy investigation/appeal, legal action concerning this, with lots of weaseling by the "Church". I think the eventual outcome is possibly still in doubt, though, due to the longstanding tolerance of the Catholic Church and other organizations which have permanent, housed staff that are volunteers. You can be sure that the Church will cling to these arguments as long as it is fiscally worthwhile to do so. Nonetheless, without this motion, the challenge would never be brought, and it does need to be brought.

I'm not sure of the defintions in Aus, but in the UK "members of a residential community of a recognised charitable organisation" are defined as members of a religious community and exempt form labour laws like the National Minimum Wage.

In the UK if the workers are non-residential (like Melbourne Org?) then they are not religious volunteers and are subject to the National Minimum Wage if they receive a regular small amount of payment for work done. HMRC have confirmed this to me.

As regards children I doubt that even the Catholic church in Aus would be allowed to employ children and deny them a formal education!

You are right that the CofS will try to weasel their way out of this, their history tells us that they will. Nevertheless the noose is tightening around the cult. :thumbsup:
 

Dulloldfart

Squirrel Extraordinaire
Methinks a whole lot of org children are going to get some better schooling real soon. For the time being, at least.

Paul
 

DavidM

Patron with Honors
Neo, I admire your courage and willingness to take action against injustice. I just watched the excellent Today Tonight report, and I believe that by educating people, the report itself will probably prevent many from becoming victims of Scientology. Thank you to everyone who contributed to that report, and thank you to you Neo for actively giving the authorities relevant data. :happydance:

Sure, the eventual outcome of any investigation is far from certain at the moment. But the fact that there is anything happening at all is a definite plus. Anyone who has specific information about working conditions, wages, and abuse within the Church of Scientology's Australian Orgs could really help this investigation.

From an earlier post:
If you are willing, please complete a wages and conditions claim form so that the Workplace Ombudsman can investigate. You can make the claim confidential.

You can lodge a claim with the Workplace Ombudsman in four ways:

1. using the online claim form from the website at www.wo.gov.au

2. in person at one of the 26 offices across Australia
Link to office locations http://www.wo.gov.au/asp/index.asp?sid=7407&page=contact-view&cid=5352&id=714

3. by contacting the Workplace Infoline on 1300 363 264 and asking for a claim kit to be mailed to you

4. by downloading a copy of the claim form http://www.wo.gov.au/data/portal/00007407/content/51059001183070561539.pdf and posting to the Workplace Ombudsman, GPO Box 9887, In your capital city

You can also contact the Workplace Ombudsman on 1300 724 200.

If you could do this, it might help bring some small measure of justice for the countless people who have suffered in the past and are suffering now on staff and in the SeaOrg. When the Church of Scientology acts as an employer it is required to follow the same regulations as any other employer. The Church of Scientology seems to have a culture of negligence towards employees.

Similarly, if you know of any Occupational Health and Safety issues affecting staff or Sea Org members (including those in the RPF) please use the relevant state contacts available here:
http://www.ascc.gov.au/ascc/AboutUs/StateContacts/
 

Emma

Con te partirò
Administrator
I'm not sure of the defintions in Aus, but in the UK "members of a residential community of a recognised charitable organisation" are defined as members of a religious community and exempt form labour laws like the National Minimum Wage.

In the UK if the workers are non-residential (like Melbourne Org?) then they are not religious volunteers and are subject to the National Minimum Wage if they receive a regular small amount of payment for work done. HMRC have confirmed this to me.

As regards children I doubt that even the Catholic church in Aus would be allowed to employ children and deny them a formal education!

You are right that the CofS will try to weasel their way out of this, their history tells us that they will. Nevertheless the noose is tightening around the cult. :thumbsup:

They may be able to wiggle out of the minimum labour laws with regards to the Sea Org, but the Class V Org staffers are a different story.

There are 80 staff on Melbourne Day (including children), probably 20 on Foundation, about the same ratios for the Sydney Class V orgs, and much smaller staffs for Adelaide, Perth & Brisbane. So all up it would be 250 - 300 permanent Class V Staff. If the CoS had to pay them a minimum wage for a 40 hour week for even clerical work, they'd be looking at $35k - $40k per person (kids excluded). So, 250 x $35000.00 is $8,750,000.00 in wages alone, plus 9% Super $787500.00 is close enough to $9.5 million per annum (at a minimum).

They simply couldn't afford to pay them. And we haven't even started talking about back pay!

Without the Class V Orgs you have nothing. The Sea Org Service Orgs depend upon the Class V Orgs for their incomes. And the Sea Org Management Orgs depend upon all the Service Orgs for their survival.

If you take out the Class V Orgs, you virtually take out Scientology.
 

SchwimmelPuckel

Genuine Meatball
I find it interesting that it is VERY obvious and conspicious that Scientology do NOT have a product that can pay decent wages to the staff.

What a useless product that is!

Compare to the fact that any decent WOG company, and a whole lot of IN-decent ones too, can and do pay wages that their staff can live on.

:yes:
 

Voltaire's Child

Fool on the Hill
Oh, they could afford to pay decent wages to staff if they wanted to. They just don't want to. Hub didn't want to. Remember the bulletin describing paying decent wages as "foolishness"?

It's all about da money, honey.

But judging by the millions and millions and millions CofS blows on lawsuits and that DM is alleged to have misappropriated, yes, I rather think that if they DID want to, they could pay at least minimum wage or more plus REAL benefits packages. There's a LOT of money in the cult.
 

asagai

Patron Meritorious
So Aussies, keep pushing on the Government to apply the law! :thumbsup:

In the UK HMRC should be reporting back on the NMW claims soon and there is other pressure in pipeline! :whistling:
 

SchwimmelPuckel

Genuine Meatball
hmm.. You're probably right Fluffy.. Doesn't make the scene any prettier though. The fact that they could drive a decent bussiness and chose not to is treason. Aught to register somewhere in the minds of even the most dedicated scientologist...

:yes:
 

Dulloldfart

Squirrel Extraordinaire
Oh, they could afford to pay decent wages to staff if they wanted to. They just don't want to.

Not really. As a sidenote, look how we are describing minimum wages as "decent wages"! Anyway, take a typical org and work out its wage bill on that basis and compare it to its GI/CGI etc. Apart from the FSO, are there ANY service orgs that could afford it? Even if you stop sending "all that money" to Int Mgmt? I'm not saying it would not be possible to run an organization delivering Scn services and have it be very profitable and pay good wages (Alan will probably pipe up here!), but just taking what they do right now and changing only the wages wouldn't be possible.

I would use real figures but I'm not close enough to the scene now to make informed estimates.

Paul
 

sallydannce

Gold Meritorious Patron
They may be able to wiggle out of the minimum labour laws with regards to the Sea Org, but the Class V Org staffers are a different story.

There are 80 staff on Melbourne Day (including children), probably 20 on Foundation, about the same ratios for the Sydney Class V orgs, and much smaller staffs for Adelaide, Perth & Brisbane. So all up it would be 250 - 300 permanent Class V Staff. If the CoS had to pay them a minimum wage for a 40 hour week for even clerical work, they'd be looking at $35k - $40k per person (kids excluded). So, 250 x $35000.00 is $8,750,000.00 in wages alone, plus 9% Super $787500.00 is close enough to $9.5 million per annum (at a minimum).

They simply couldn't afford to pay them. And we haven't even started talking about back pay!

Without the Class V Orgs you have nothing. The Sea Org Service Orgs depend upon the Class V Orgs for their incomes. And the Sea Org Management Orgs depend upon all the Service Orgs for their survival.

If you take out the Class V Orgs, you virtually take out Scientology.

Well put Emma! The class V's are struggling as it stands with market rents to pay and now I assume mortgages to service. Don't forget the tithes on movies, etc, which have to be paid uplines. They struggle with these. So make them pay wages in accordance with the law and you do virtually take out scientology. This attacks the heart of the beast - the money.
 

SchwimmelPuckel

Genuine Meatball
I never was privvy to the GO-EU's finances.. I'm not very good at figures either... But! - When I was there I got the impression that the GO-EU didn't have any finances to speak of. The money came from the service orgs in the EU countries. And those orgs had to pay a handsome 'tax' to both GO-EU and Flag... I'd say that the internal tax-system was the staff wages being sent 'uplines'.. And that was weird really, at least what Flag is concerned. Flag is a service org itself, and Flag did have many more paying marks than any other org already.

:yes:
 
Top