I read this article in our local newspaper (online) tonight and thought what the ombudsman said about Scientology's use of 'volunteer' workers was very interesting. I feel many of the statements made in the report could also apply to the WTS.
Here's the article. I have highlighted the parts I personally feel relate to the WTS.
Scientology told to honour workplace laws
- By Belinda Cranston · September 16, 2011 7:40PM
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.