Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NarCONon IS Scientology web site has moved

Please note that the NarCONon IS Scientology web site has moved. The original domain name Crackpots.ORG has changed to Crackpots.US. If you have web content that links to the old domain name, please update you links to the new domain.

If you have questions about the domain name move, please email me at

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fair Work Ombudsman releases findings of investigation into Church of Scientology

The Australian Government 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,

•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

Scientology told to honour workplace laws, Being sued in Class Action case

ABC Lateline: Class Action Suit for back-pay

Slater & Gordon investigates class action over Scientology wages claims

National law firm Slater & Gordon is investigating a possible class action against the Church of Scientology over claims the organisation has for many years underpaid its workers.

Steven Lewis, practice group leader commercial litigation, said the firm had spent the past year investigating the organisation after receiving complaints from several former Scientology members.

"We have come to the view that former Scientology members were in fact employees and there has been a policy not to pay them proper wages and entitlements," Mr Lewis said.

"This could mean they are entitled to back pay, superannuation contributions, holiday pay and overtime.

"We are now at the point where we are calling on former members who worked with the organisation since 2005 to contact us on a confidential basis to discuss possible claims against the organisation."

Mr Lewis said he was currently unable to estimate the size of a claim against the organisation or the possible number of claimants.

"What we have been told by former members is that for years the organisation exploited many of its workers by calling them volunteers despite being required to perform a range of work for little or no pay.

"Scientology is no different to any other employer in this country, it is obliged to pay wages and other entitlements under the law and the relevant award.

"This isn't about attacking beliefs, it is about being paid a fair wage for a fair day's work," Mr Lewis said.

Further details Steven Lewis 02 8267 0626
Media Contact Michael Salmon 0417 495 018

Sydney Morning Herald
Belinda Cranston
September 16, 2011

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 Television 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 on Friday 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 underpaid.

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


SScientology 'has to conform'
Sydney Morning Herald
16 September 2011, 10:35 am

THE Church of Scientology has been found to be subject to Australian labour laws after an investigation into allegations it paid employees who were members of its clergy as little as $10 a week.

But elements of the draft report by the Fair Work Ombudsman - such as indications that allegations of slavery and human rights abuses would be referred to ''the relevant authority'' for further investigation - have been omitted from the final public version. Instead the public version says: ''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.''
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The report also gives the first real insight into the finances of the Australian arm of the controversial church, founded by the American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1952.

more at