Scientology hits back over unfair pay claims
THE Church of Scientology is disputing that it unfairly pays its workers and is upset that a draft report has been released.
A final report by the Fair Work Ombudsman is due for release later this week, but a draft report has found some workers were paid as little as $10 a week by the church despite it earning more than $17 million in 2009.
It contains allegations of false imprisonment and forced labour.
"The allegations ... may potentially be a breach of the provisions of the Criminal Code Act 1995 dealing with slavery ... the Fair Work Ombudsman will refer the witnesses' allegations to the relevant authority for further investigation," ABC Television quoted the draft report as saying.
It also found the church had incorrectly classified as volunteers or voluntary workers people who were entitled to be classified as employees, which could mean it is forced to backpay people if the final statement of findings reflects the draft report.
The church has released a statement saying religious and community work is undertaken by volunteers and those doing religious service.
"This is no different to many other charities and religions in Australia, which rely upon the generosity of their volunteer workers and ours do so freely, wishing to help their Church and community," the church said.
It also said it was wrong to say that the church had applied to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to register a new company name, two days after it received the draft findings.
It said the NSW Office of Fair Trading had instructed it to transfer its registration to ASIC in late 2009.
"The transition required a great deal of work by volunteers Church of Scientology staff and was only completed in May 2011 and the filing was entirely coincidental," the church said.
"The suggestion that the change in registration was designed to circumvent any negative findings against the church by the Fair Work Ombudsman is outrageous, wrong and defamatory."
The church also said the draft report was supposed to remain confidential.
"It is quite unfair for any analysis of such draft finding to take place when they are not the final decision of the regulatory authority."
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