||Issue No. 301||31 March 2006|
Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Industrial: How Low Is Low
Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
Unions: Bad Medicine
History: Right Turn, Clyde
Economics: Long Division
International: Union Proud
Politics: Howardís Sick Joke
Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Culture: News Front
The Locker Room
The Earl Speaks
Let Us Rejoice
Buggers in Office
A stores worker at Dana Australia found a high-frequency listening device amongst metal parts on an office windowsill, after a day of intense negotiations.
AMWU state secretary, Dave Oliver, has given the bug to Victorian police and lodged a complaint under Surveillance laws that provide for imprisonment and fines of up to $108,000.
"Welcome to John Howard's industrial McCarthyism," Oliver said.
"Our people are furious. First they tell us they are going to chop our wages and then this, in an environment where John Howard has made it an offence to even ask for conditions he doesn't like."
The discovery vindicates concerns expressed by Dana workers, at the Industrial Relations Commission, on February 3, in defending themselves against a company bid for orders under the federal government's Workplace Relations Act.
At that hearing, the transcript reveals, the AMWU argued a stoppage, the previous day, was not a strike but a report back session that had to be held off-site because of genuine concerns meetings were being bugged.
Dana employees had been discussing a 76-point log of claims, served under cover of WorkChoices, that would have slashed earnings by 30 percent.
Lowlights of company demands, on 400 people at its Clayton and Cheltenham sites, included annual five percent wage cuts, savage clawbacks on overtime, shift and penalty rates, and a 20 percent drop for new starters.
Organiser, Ian Thomas, admitted he had been sceptical when members first raised concerns they were being snooped on.
"I laughed it off as paranoia," he said. "I'd have them on about Mulder and Scully but then too many things started happening that couldn't be put down to coincidence.
"In negotiations, they would repeat things back to us exactly as they had been said in private.
"Even so, I was surprised when they found the listening device. One of the guys found it in the stores room when he was rummaging around for a part."
Thomas explained the head AMWU delegate was a leading hand in the tool room with his own office. As a matter of course, Dana delegates used that room for private discussions, during breaks in formal negotiations.
The device was discovered, immediately after "intense" discussions on the company's clawback agenda.
Melbourne's Age newspaper reported, this week, Moorabbin detectives were investigating the discovery of a listening device found at an "engineering firm".
Meanwhile, Dana Australia's parent company, Dana Corp, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US.
The business-friendly legislation allows companies that can't meet their commitments to continue trading whilst they renegotiate contracts causing them bother.
The AMWU understands that most of the contracts Dana Corp has in its sights are labour contracts.
Before filing for bankruptcy protection, Dana announced sweeping changes to its operations, including the closure of plants in North America and Australia.
Last December, Dana Corp lowered reported profits by $US44 million, since 2000, and admitted to improper accounting procedures.
Last month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, announced it was opening an investigation into the Dana's financial practices and whether it had violated federal securities laws.
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