Employment Court holds exploitation and child labour: a dark shadow for Gloriavale

May 10th, 2022

OPINION: 

The New Zealand Employment Court has released its decision on whether the leadership “Shepherd” members of the Gloriavale Christian Community were employers. 

MBIE’s Labour Inspectorate had found twice that they were not employees, but the Employment Court found this to be wrong. How could the employment watchdog get it so wrong? Hopefully, the Inspectorate can now put right, the wrong it helped to perpetuate. 

It took courage for these individuals to bring these proceedings against the “Community” leaders who had exerted great power and control over these individuals, such as withholding food or other necessities of life, and publicly shaming them if they did not work or did not meet the work performance standards. Most disgustingly, if these children “were not working hard enough or fast enough they were hit” as “the blueness of the wound cleaneth away the sin”. 

Gloriavale Christian Community Members Found Employees By Employment Court.
Gloriavale Christian Community Members

The decision was inevitable and right. The “Community” leaders derive great commercial benefit from the labour of some of their most vulnerable young members. Child members work long arduous hours for no pay. Instead of paying these child workers, the work they perform provides a high financial commercial return for the “Community”, or more suitably phrased the Gloriavale business and leaders. 

Gloriavale is not just a self-sustaining Christian community. It is a highly complex commercial labyrinth network and enterprise, comprising trusts and companies, who operate various highly successful, multimillion dollar profit-making businesses. 

Courage, under whose name the proceedings were issued, gave evidence that he worked from the age of 6, for no pay.

Gloriavale denied they were employers, and the Labour Inspectorate backed this up, saying they were volunteers. Judge Inglis holds that loud alarm bells should have been ringing from even a cursory reading of the documents available to the Labour Inspectorate at the time. 

Inglis’ decision is the right decision. It not only appropriately denotes that Gloriavale leaders exploited these children, but will also now place the spotlight on and lift the lid on other types of work arrangements involving children such as newspaper outlets using children for deliveries etc. 

The contents of this article are purely the opinion of the writer. 

Read our other post on Gloriavale.

Please contact Buckett Law for advice and assistance on how this effects you.

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