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People were wondering earlier why it was so quiet on ESMB after the final report was released. This report from Tony Ortega pretty much sums it up:
The FWO was "got at".
Scientology Dodges a Bullet in Australia: Church Told to Pay Workers, Says "We'll Get Right On That"
By Tony Ortega Fri., Sep. 16 2011 at 4:25 AM
Scientology watchers in Australia are still absorbing a stunning case of bait-and-switch Down Under.
Earlier this week, a "draft" report by that country's "Fair Work Ombudsman" was leaked which seemed to indicate that Scientology was on the verge of a world of hurt: after interviewing eight witnesses who complained of working long hours for little pay, the labor agency seemed convinced that Scientology is falsely calling employees "volunteers" and might actually be violating the country's anti-slavery laws.
Tonight, however, the "final" report of the Ombudsman was released, and it reads nothing like that earlier draft. (emphasis mine)
None of the eight witnesses were working for the church recently enough for their claims to matter, and only two of the witnesses were working for other church entities that can be investigated. And even those witnesses, the report says, were working voluntarily.
The document urges Scientology to audit itself and make sure it is paying people properly. Australia's ABC reports that the church, not surprisingly, says it will do so.
It's currently 4 in the morning here in New York, so it will be some time before I can reach Mike Rinder and other sources for reaction to this news.
Online reactions are muted. Members of Anonymous initially greeted the final report with some elation...
Oh. My. God. It is a thing of beauty and freedom and justice.
But as they made their way through the lengthy document, it gradually began to dawn on some that the report was not what they had expected.
This isn't the huge, stake-thro-the-heart-of-the-Beast that we had hoped it would be
No, indeed. It isn't.
The report spends several pages establishing that Scientology's various entities are constitutional corporations under Australian law and are subject to the labor agency's jurisdiction.
But then it goes through the case of each witness, some of whom haven't worked for Scientology since the 1980s. One after another, they are simply dismissed as evidence that is too old to consider.
One witness did work from 1998 to 2008 -- but said that work was voluntary, and the Ombudsman doesn't disagree.
Another witness was only 14 when she signed a billion-year contract and joined the hardcore Sea Org, would work from 9 in the morning until 3 or 4 the next morning, and once worked 72 hours straight -- but still, considered this voluntary work.
All of the tough language of the draft report -- that the Ombudsman didn't buy the church's claims that this work was voluntary, and that anti-slavery laws might be violated -- has been stripped out.
Instead, the report concludes with weak recommendations that Scientology should get its own house in order. With such get-tough sounding headings as, "What the Church of Scientology and workers might do to reduce further complaints," the report goes on to recommend that Scientology hire an auditor.
It would be prudent for the Church of Scientology to proactively undertake this self audit process at the earliest opportunity.
Oh, we're certain David Miscavige will get on that, straight away.
The FWO was "got at".