MEDIA RELEASE: “Absolutely incorrect” to suggest Appco would condone the behaviour reported by the ABC
Posted at 1:57 pm
It is absolutely incorrect to suggest that Appco allowed or condoned the obscene behaviour described by the ABC on the weekend, said Appco Group Australia Chief Executive Officer Martin Gaffney.
“These allegations describe outrageous and completely unacceptable behaviour, which would not be tolerated by Appco Group Australia,” Mr Gaffney said.
“Appco would immediately sever ties with any marketing agency that encouraged bullying and harassment activities. And we would require marketing agencies to weed out any independent contractors who initiated such behaviour amongst fellow contractors.”
The alleged activities in the ABC report occurred in 2014. Appco Australia was only made aware of them during its investigations into bullying and harassment in the wake of media coverage of a class action against Appco Australia at the end of October 2016.
Mr Gaffney said Appco is appalled and extremely disappointed that these activities have taken place and that they had not been drawn to Appco’s attention before. “They are being treated extremely seriously and will inform the robust action plan Appco Australia is now putting in place,” he said.
Appco Australia has contracts with 64 independent marketing companies. These marketing companies are responsible for engaging independent contractors to conduct face-to-face sales and fundraising for Appco’s clients.
There are currently approximately 1,000 independent contractors and, to date, two former independent contractors have come forward to Appco with the allegations reported by the ABC, and which took place in a marketing company that ceased operating at the end of 2014.
Factual errors in ABC report
The ABC was also incorrect in claiming the bullying and harassment allegations are part of the class action against Appco Australia.
“The class action led by Chamberlains law firm is focused entirely on attempting to demonstrate that the independent contractor model is an employer-employee relationship and, therefore, that individuals are entitled to payments and benefits provided under workplace law,” Mr Gaffney said in a statement last Friday.
The bullying and harassment allegations are serious and concerning, and will be investigated thoroughly. However, Appco Australia believes Chamberlains is misleading young people into signing up to the class action on the grounds of bullying and harassment, when the legal case is entirely focused on so-called ‘sham contracting’.
The bullying and harassment allegations reported by the ABC are from 2014 and relate to two marketing companies that have closed in the past two years.
These allegations are not part of any legal case against Appco Australia and are clearly being used by Chamberlains to gain media attention for their class action, to embarrass Appco and damage its reputation ahead of a court case, and to gain publicity to encourage more independent contractors to join the class action.
Nonetheless, Appco Australia has asked law firm Baker & McKenzie to conduct an independent investigation into bullying and harassment and will use all of the findings to inform its robust action plan, elements of which are already in place.
Appco Australia will immediately terminate its contracts with any marketing company found to have tolerated this type of behaviour. The investigations by the law firm Baker & McKenzie are continuing.
Media enquiries: Michael Smith 0411 055 306