|Issue No 62
|14 July 2000
No Joy in the Chase
By Rowan Cahill
Striking Joy Mining Machinery workers from Moss Vale sat in the boardroom of the Sydney office of the Chase Manhattan bank last Friday seeking some answers.
The five man deputation wanted to question bank officials about the $750 million the big US bank has lent Joy's American parent company Harnischfeger Industries Inc. The deputation was parked in the boardroom until higher authorities were apparently consulted.
Harnischfeger Inc. currently operates under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This section of the US Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to continue operations so long as it reorganises, restructures, and cuts operating costs.
Since 1998 the company has been involved in what it terms "aggressive" and permanent global downsizing, cost cutting, and "headcount reduction".
Moss Vale Joy workers are currently in dispute with Joy management, and believe the economic situation of Harnischfeger and its global strategies are part of their problem.
Following the collapse of EBA negotiations earlier this year, about 70 workers were locked-out of the Joy worksite in Moss Vale (NSW) for three months under provisions of the Workplace Relations Act.
During this time they manned two picket encampments outside their worksite. Their activities, and those of their unions (the AMWU, AWU, and CEPU), are restrained by Supreme Court injunctions.
In the face of the hard anti-union line pursued by the company, the workers rejected an offer to return to work last week. And as the lockout turned into a strike, the workers visited Chase Manhattan.
According to Moss Vale worker logic, because Harnischfeger is globally restructuring, cutting costs and jobs, and Chase Manhattan is bankrolling the company, then the bank has a defacto relationship with what is happening in Moss Vale.
Sydney representatives of the huge US bank were not amused, and the workers left when asked to do so.
Back at the Moss Vale picket encampment, plans were being made for a "Solidarity and Support" tour.
This is now under way. Representatives of the locked-out workers/strikers are touring worksites nationally, explaining the Moss Vale dispute and what happens when management takes full advantage of the Workplace Relations Act.
Chase Manhattan meanwhile, has other problems. A few days after the Moss Vale worker visit, declassified US Treasury documents released in New York allegedly showed the banking giant had helped funnel German assets back to the Nazis from France after the US went to war against Germany during World War 2.
The bank is currently facing legal action by Holocaust survivors for the alleged wartime freezing of Jewish bank accounts.
Interview: Fair Trader
AMWU boss Doug Cameron is gearing for a showdown with the ALP over their free trade agenda. But what's he really on about?
Politics: Free Trader
Trade Minister Peter Cook states his case for coninuting trade liberalisation and why the 'fair trade' agenda is against the interests of Australian workers.
History: Organising - Fifties Style
What do the new wave of organisers do? Pretty much the same hard slog that Audrey Petrie did in the 1950s around Sydney for the Hotel, Club and Restaurant Union (HCRU).
Unions: The Whistleblower
A lone Chinese seafarer is fighting to stop a Panamanian flagged vessel from dumping toxic waste into Australian waters
International: Jakarta Breakthrough
Indonesian workers have just won a new historic bill of rights which gaurantees them legal protections when they form unions.
Solidarity: Rio Versus the Rest of the World
Union members around the world have taken part in a week of international action against the mining giant Rio Tinto. Andrew Casey looks at all the hot spots.
Satire: Amnesty Branch Targets Lazy Letter Writer
Police are investigating claims that the Glebe branch of Amnesty International has captured and tortured a member whose tardiness in letter writing had become renowned.
Review: Little by Little
Clinton Walker's groundbreaking book, CD and video charts the careers of indigenous artists like the legendary Jimmy Little.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005