The owner of a marketing firm at the centre of an alleged bullying scandal has stood down from his job, as fundraising giant Appco launches an urgent investigation into the treatment of donation-collectors, the Canberra Times reports.
Appco has ordered all of its 64 other marketing agencies to turn over any details of “suspected or known” bullying and harassment, and provide written assurances that they are not tolerating such behaviour.
A group of former Appco workers have mobilised to join a class action, alleging sham contracting, underpayment and humiliating rituals.
Appco chief executive Martin Gaffney said agencies that could not give this assurance would risk losing their business with Appco.
“We will not tolerate, condone or turn a blind eye to the type of behaviour alleged,” he said.
Legal firm Chamberlains is leading a class action against Appco, aiming to recoup lost wages and damages for up to 8000 former fundraising workers, although Appco is yet to be served with the lawsuit.
Many of the nation’s biggest charities use Appco as a third-party fundraiser, but several well-known organisations are now reviewing their contracts in light of the allegations.
Mr Gaffney said Appco had engaged a top-tier law firm, Baker and McKenzie, to carry out an investigation into the bullying and harassment claims.
Mr Gaffney said he did not believe improper practices were “widespread or systemic”.
The firm has also been engaged by Appco to investigate allegations of the wrongly engaging workers as contractors, a practice known as “sham contracting”.
Our business is built on an entrepreneurial philosophy which allows individuals to build their own businesses.
“We have nothing to hide,” Mr Gaffney said. “There is no way we will tolerate bullying or harassment or any behaviour that breaches employment law.”
Since the scandal broke a week ago, Appco has set in train numerous actions, including ordering all 64 marketing companies it contracts with to hand over any details of “suspected or known practices that could be construed as bullying or harassment”.
Employer and staff partied as family mourned their workmate (Canberra Times)
Large image: Appco