Workchoices (Or, I Sucked a Lot of Cock to Get Where I Am)

28 03 2006

A sign of things to come in the Brave New Workplace? Auto parts firm Dana has been accused of bugging a union delegate’s office:

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union says it discovered the listening device at automotive parts manufacturer Dana Australia, which was the target of a union campaign last month for threatening to cut workers’ wages by 5 per cent, and new employees’ wages by 20 per cent.

The bug, which fits into the palm of a hand, is believed to broadcast on an FM frequency and has a range of up to 60 metres.

It was found last Wednesday on the window sill of a shop steward’s office, where union members met to consider a wage offer made by management.

Dana apparently has been an enthusiastic backer of the Workchoices legislation, and this kind of chicanery certainly foreshadows the Hobbesian industrial landscape–where even a “personality clash” is enough to get you fired (!!)–which the new laws will help create.

One thing is certain: every sacking and every reduction in wages and conditions that transpires henceforth is bad publicity for Workchoices (whether or not the connection is merited). The ACTU clearly knows this, which explains its current strategy of publicising every sacking and every reduction in wages and conditions. And I believe this opens up a golden opportunity for Labor (and the labour movement generally)–if only it could get its shit together enough to seize it. Because while the Government will accuse it of scaremongering–and not without some justification–the Government itself doesn’t really have any answers beyond a meek “Trust us.” Or, rather, “trust them”–“them” being the employers whose goodwill and capacity to behave ethically towards employees can no longer be vouchsafed to the same extent that it could under the old regime. We are entering an industrial world that is even more insecure–and that insecurity is precisely what makes Workchoices so unpopular.

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