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Issue No. 301 31 March 2006  

Deep Impact
No the sky didnít fall in, but there were an awful lot of acorns falling on Australian workers this week as John Howardís dream of a workplace without rights became a reality.


Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Workers Online speaks to the ACTU's Union Organiser of the Year, Greg Harvey from the RTBU, who has been using cutting edge ways to communicate with a blue-collar workforce spread across five states.

Industrial: How Low Is Low
Neale Towart looks at the much hyped link between minimum wages and employment

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Govwernment has begun rolling out workshops to inform employers on how to use WorkChoices. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Bad Medicine
Nathan Brown reports on how Australia Postís dodgy Faculty Nominated Doctor system is leaving sick workers feeling worse.

History: Right Turn, Clyde
Bob Gould believes news of Clyde Cameronís demise may be premature

Economics: Long Division
Kenneth Davidson looks at a successful political strategy

International: Union Proud
A University of California librarian calls for union labels to increase worker visibility

Politics: Howardís Sick Joke
Phil Doyle looks at an attack on one of the great achievements of the union movement

Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
That mob in parliament house seems to be hopelessly out of touch with Indigenous Australia. So much so, that Graham Ring wonders if the House on the Hill is becoming a Ďcultural museumí.

Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Mandrake the Electrician has been down to the video store over the summer and rounded up the Top Ten Union Movies of all time.

Culture: News Front
If the owners are selling off papers, perhaps the unions should buy them says Mark Dobbie.


 Doctors Orders - Take a Walke

 Teens Changing the Landscape

 Voters Desert Howard

 Electrical Boss Zaps Safety

 Buggers in Office

 Pub With No Beer

 Telstra's Townsville Shocker

 ABCC: Safety a Gas

 Rough Night Pays Off

 Game, Set, Match Building Workers

 Feds AWA Offers No Choice


The Soapbox
Australian Fascism
Rowan Cahill critiques Gerard Hendersonís unique take on history

Westie Wing
Will Westie's Wings be clipped, or will the Hills Angels repent and deliver?

The Locker Room
The Heart Of The Matter
Phil Doyle rolls up the red carpet and celebrates the death of an old foe

 Sing-a-Long Unions
 The Earl Speaks
 Market's Blind
 Hi Guys!
 Let Us Rejoice
 Tom's Bit
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Buggers in Office

The American-owned company driving John Howard's wage-cutting agenda is being accused of bugging Australian union delegates.

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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