Little weight given to Gloriavale documents waiving workers' rights

Ryan Boswell
Source: 1News

The Labour Inspectorate concedes it gave little weight to the documents Gloriavale members sign waiving workers' rights.

That’s the question being posed in employment court.

Senior labour inspector Hannah Crampton appeared before the Employment Court on Monday, where she was questioned about her investigation into long working hours at the commune.

Crampton found that no employment relationships existed within Gloriavale, and community members were volunteers.

The court is considering whether Gloriavale residents are classed as employees or volunteers.

A group of leavers have lodged the case against the Attorney General and the community’s leaders, arguing they are robbed of choice.

Court counsel Robert Kirkness pointed to the rule book ‘What We Believe’ and the ‘Declaration of Faith’, which Gloriavale members ‘have to sign and abide by without question’.

He asked Crampton if the documents had been looked at as part of the investigation, as well as the type of relationship they created.

“I don’t believe it was specifically. Not in that much detail at least.

“I don’t think there was any consideration about whether the leaders were the employers,” said Crampton.

Crampton was also quizzed about who had the “ultimate power and control” at Gloriavale.

“I don’t know if it's something that was specifically concluded on but I understand where you’re getting at and you want me to say it's the leaders of the community and that would be correct,” said Crampton.

Money transferred to community

While some Gloriavale members get financial compensation for their work, the money is transferred back to the community, which the Labour Inspectorate also ignored.

“If it's slavery then it wouldn’t be employment and therefore the Labour Inspectorate wouldn’t have jurisdiction.

“We would think about who would be best placed to deal with that issue and refer that to that other agency,” said Crampton.

Several times during her appearance, Crampton appeared defensive about the questions being asked.

“My understanding is that this is not about the investigation process, that this cross examination was about my observations,” said Crampton.

Kirkness said her observations and her report is relevant to the plaintiffs who have taken the case.

The hearing continues.