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Aussie Techs Threaten Chaos 267

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the not-gonna-take-it dept.
tintinaujapon writes "The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that NCR staff with key responsibility (among other things) for fast food & supermarket chains, banking ATMs, schools and baggage handling at Sydney airport are preparing to walk off the job next week, in industrial action aimed at resolving a pay dispute. NCR's general manager thinks few people in the general community will care about the plight of the palest workforce, but the union claims potential disruption and financial losses could be huge. The strike could last up to a week and is the most significant action yet taken in Australia by the techie workforce."
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Aussie Techs Threaten Chaos

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  • E.A. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Watson Ladd (955755) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:39AM (#14898218)
    This looks a lot like the E.A. games problem, with an added twist: Aussie law penalizes staying at work if negotiations take long.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:43AM (#14898239)

    be a shame if nothing was to happen to it egh ?

  • Biased headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrraven (129238) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:46AM (#14898250)
    Shouldn't that be Aussie tech workers threaten walkout? Why is the Slashdot headline FUDing managements position? Without labor unions we wouldn't have ever gained a 40 hour work week or an end to child labor. Is that really the way we want to go? Further labor unions are way for workers to gain rights without government interference which ought to be just fine with the Libertarians among you unless you are really just hypocritical cheap labor conservatives.
    • Re:Biased headline (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:01PM (#14898302) Homepage Journal
      Unfortunately there's a strong "unions == bad" meme among a lot of geeks. I think it's because tech workers' conditions have, until quite recently, been very very good by overall work-conditions standards: comfortable environments, low risk of physical injury, reasonable work hours, etc. What tech workers, and office workers in general, have failed to grasp is that these conditions exist because of the efforts of organized labor over the last century or so; and now, inevitably, with the decline in the power of unions, we're starting to see work environments become less and less comfortable with work hours extending to the point where exhaustion and burnout are inevitable and physical injury, particularly RSI, becomes a serious risk. Whether this will lead to more organizing efforts like the one in Australia is anyone's guess, but I'd sure like to see it happen.

      Complicating this is that a lot of geeks are libertarians, and a lot of self-styled libertarians think unions have the smell of socialism. Which is stupid, of course; unions are in fact an admirably free-market solution to the problem of employer-employee conflicts. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that asking someone who calls himself a libertarian about his opinion of organized labor is a good way to distinguish between true libertarians on the one hand, and right-wingers who call themselves libertarians because it's fashionable in certain circles on the other.
      • Re:Biased headline (Score:4, Insightful)

        by paulthomas (685756) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:40PM (#14898465) Journal
        It should be pointed out that Unions in America are not an example of completely free market action. They depend on the government to enforce certain rules via National Labor Relations Board.

        There are too many regulations that give positive rights to the employees in such situations to call unions in America a market solution.

        I, too would find them admirable (much like I find voluntary collective consumer action to be admirable), if the playing-field were __actually__ level (instead of ostensibly so for the benefit of bureaucrats).

        Unions without government-intervention would work. Instead of the unions we see now, we would find unions organizing as independent for-profit bargaining/insurance companies.

        At the same time, the union company's risk and reward would come from providing some degree of insurance (out of union dues) to newly organized employees.

        a thought.

        Paul
        • So, would the workers in such union companies be able to, um, unionize? I mean, if they chose a competitor union company for organization, that would seem to be a vote of no confidence in the management of their own company, but if they chose their own company and ever had to walk out or strike, who would be left to negotiate the return?

          • An interesting question that I can't at the moment find a good answer to. I'll be thinking about it.

            I had imagined that such a company would require minimal manpower and that it would all be skilled work... this might not be the case though.

            Thanks for the challenge.

            Best,
            Paul
        • It should be pointed out that Unions in America are not an example of completely free market action. They depend on the government to enforce certain rules via National Labor Relations Board.

          This cuts both ways. The very idea of a company as something that limits liability of the owners and operators is a very anti-free market construct. That's not to say that companies are a bad idea. The limitation allows people to enter business with a calculated risk. But if the allegedly free market is already warp

          • The very idea of a company as something that limits liability of the owners and operators is a very anti-free market construct.

            How so? It would appear to be orthogonal to the freeness of a market.

        • Re:Biased headline (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mabhatter654 (561290) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:23PM (#14900829)
          It should be pointed out that CORPORATIONS in America are not an example of completely free market action. CORPORATIONS depend on the government to enforce certain rules via INSERT RELEVENT LAWS HERE. There are too many regulations that give positive rights to the CORPOERATIONS in such situations to call CORPORATIONS in America a market solution. I, too would find them admirable (much like I find voluntary collective consumer action to be admirable), if the playing-field were __actually__ level (instead of ostensibly so for the benefit of bureaucrats). CORPORATIONS without government-intervention would work. Instead of the CORPORATIONS we see now, we would find CORPORATIONS organizing as independent for-profit bargaining/insurance companies.... Get the idea, corporations enjoy far too many benifits also [DMCA, Patriot act, low income tax, etc] , why should one CEO have control over hundreds of individuals jobs without some counter-balance to it. Remember, it's not the CEO's money, he is an "elecected" offical too. After all, Corporations are just "unions" where people pool their money [labor] so they don't have to be responsible to make it grow [like union contracts to keep benifits, hours, etc].
      • Re:Biased headline (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NormalVisual (565491) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:43PM (#14898475)
        Complicating this is that a lot of geeks are libertarians, and a lot of self-styled libertarians think unions have the smell of socialism. Which is stupid, of course; unions are in fact an admirably free-market solution to the problem of employer-employee conflicts.

        I consider myself to be something of a libertarian, but I have mixed feelings about unions. On the one hand, collective bargaining can be truly necessary in those situations where the disparity in power between the employer and employee is such that the employer looks upon their workers as faceless, replaceable biological machines that perform a given task and refuses to treat them as human beings. On the other hand, I've seen firsthand the productivity hit and general attitude of entitlement that can result from a strong union, and many unions appear to embody an "us vs. them" mentality that makes it difficult to come to a compromise when the employer's needs/wants need to be taken into consideration, even when they're entirely reasonable.

        Having said all of that, one thing that a lot of self-styled libertarians seem to gloss over is the inherent advantage that government confers upon corporations, specifically corporate personhood and all of the stuff that falls out from that, and the fact that corporations exist without fear of any kind of real punishment for criminal acts. I fail to see why some people don't see that for the government intrusion that it is, and then turn around and complain about other government involvement in free markets such as tariffs on imported goods.
      • Re:Biased headline (Score:3, Insightful)

        by screaser (901255)
        reasonable work hours, etc.

        Seriously? All the geeks I know work 70+ hour work weeks... then again I think a lot of that is self-imposed...

        More on-topic, though, I've seen many examples of unions just going way too far. They were a good idea, and have wrought many benefits. However the only 2 things they are responsible for are:

        (a) Provide for their own survival.
        (b) Increase benefits to their members.

        Point being, there is no incentive whatsoever for them to act reasonably. Members only makin
        • Seriously? All the geeks I know work 70+ hour work weeks...

          And how many of them are in unions, or otherwise do something about it?

          Precisely.
          • Well, if you clip his actual comment it sounds bad, sure.

            Restored: "Seriously? All the geeks I know work 70+ hour work weeks... then again I think a lot of that is self-imposed... "

            That would be the "otherwise doing something". They work the time because of desire for IP reward or bonus or just love of tech. However, I've known lots of geeks over the last 35+ and don't recall any working 70+. That's a geek delusion of heroic grandure, m'thinks.
        • Re:Biased headline (Score:4, Insightful)

          by timeOday (582209) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @02:07PM (#14898790)
          However the only 2 things they [unions] are responsible for are:

          (a) Provide for their own survival.
          (b) Increase benefits to their members.

          Which one of those do you disagree with? Both a) and b) seem to apply even moreso to the corporations (if you interpret "members" as "shareholders"). Companies' heirarchial structure gives them inherent unified/collective bargaining power. I don't think it's necessarily wrong for workers to exercise the same power.

          When workers want as much money for as little work as possible, they're spoiled and greedy. When companies want long hours for low pay they're "lean and efficient." How some people can hold both these views simultaneously and fail to see the hypocrisy is beyond me.

          Finally on a related note, allowing companies to slash pensions for those who already earned them is legalized theft.

          • However the only 2 things they [unions] are responsible for are: (a) Provide for their own survival. (b) Increase benefits to their members.

            The problem, as I see it, is too many unions look only to short term gains and not to long term ones. It is the difference between viewing things in terms of "win-win" or "win-lose". Unions and the company could work together to both provide for the workers and build a strong and healthy company. Instead, the unions "won" in the case of GM at least in the short t

            • Re:Biased headline (Score:2, Interesting)

              by cranos (592602)
              The problem, as I see it, is too many unions look only to short term gains and not to long term ones. It is the difference between viewing things in terms of "win-win" or "win-lose".

              Hmm so it is true, Unions HAVE become like big business.
            • Re:Biased headline (Score:3, Interesting)

              by MartinB (51897)
              The problem, as I see it, is too many unions look only to short term gains and not to long term ones.

              Aye, because too many long term deals have been reneged on by employers looking for short term and long term gains.

            • Re:Biased headline (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Mateito (746185)
              The problem, as I see it, is too many unions look only to short term gains and not to long term ones.

              Everybody these days - corperations, politicians, unions and even workers - thinks "short term".

              Plenty of listed companies cut staff at the insistance of Wall-Street "analysts" so that they make the share price looks good for end-of-quarter. 3-months isn't exactly long-term planning. Look at the "new" HP - basically the old HP with all the good bits either wound down or sold-off.

              How many people in their 3

        • Re:Biased headline (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ultranova (717540)

          Company on the brink of bankruptcy? Screw 'em. Demand more wages and benefits (See big 3 automatkers).

          It is rather hard to avoid this attitude when companies routinely sack their employers just to hedge their stock up a few pennies. You cannot demand loyaly from employees if you are unwilling to show them any. You cannot value your profits more than your employees and expect them to value you more than their benefits. If companies refuse to accept this, then they deserve to get screwed; they are only re

      • Re:Biased headline (Score:5, Informative)

        by CSHARP123 (904951) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:57PM (#14898529)
        The strike has been called following a breakdown in negotiations over pay, Ms McManus said. "[The workers] are concerned that NCR is attempting to stonewall so they can use the Howard Government's new WorkChoices laws to cut away at wages and conditions. These workers do not want to inconvenience the public, but have no option to achieve pay increases."
        I was googling on workchoice law. This is as per Queensland govt under "What does it mean for employees"
        • Agreement making under the new laws will lead to a reduction in wages and conditions for workers.
        • All work, whether currently covered by an award or not, can be offered to a worker conditional on them signing an agreement that signs away basic entitlements.
        • Employees can lose basic entitlements such as:
          • rest and meal breaks;
          • incentive-based pay;
          • annual leave loading;
          • allowances;
          • penalty rates and overtime; and
          • control over hours and rosters.
        • Employees may not be entitled to penalty rates for working on public holidays. However, an employee will have the right to refuse a request to work on a public holiday if he/she has reasonable grounds for doing so.
        • Employers will also have the right to dismiss staff due to operational requirements and then offer employment to the same workers under a new agreement.
        • Employees may lose the extra money they currently enjoy for shift work and overtime and time off to spend with their family over the weekend.
        • The only legally enforceable minimum conditions are annual leave, personal leave, parental leave and ordinary hours. These replace the no-disadvantage test and agreements will no longer undergo any formal approval process.
        • The federal Government has led workers to believe that they will be protected by award conditions when making agreements.

        With these kind of laws I dont think they are doing anything wrong. Show solidarity to our tech brothers and sisters down under.
        • I think it would be fascinating for some group (one person doing this would probably get blacklisted pretty quickly) to go around and get offers of employment from different companies, get copies of their default contracts, attempt to negotiate better contracts, and compile a report based on, say, the top 50 employers (in terms of # of employees) in the country. Just to see how much "choice" there really is in negotiating away meal breaks, overtime pay, and government holidays. How many companies will let
        • That's actually a bit misleading - the Queensland Government is of the opposite political persuasion to our Federal Government, and so put a different political spin on it (Queensland has a Labor Government while the Federal Government is mainly formed by our Liberal/Conservative party - somewhat analagous to Democrats vs Republicans in the USA).

          Anyway, that comment pulled from the Queensland website is mostly spin - notice the common use of the words 'can' and 'may'. Nobody really knows yet exactly what pr
      • well, in my case... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @01:49PM (#14898717)
        I subscribe to this "unions=bad" "meme" because I grew up in Flint, Michigan (birthplace of the modern labor movement in the US) and experienced first hand unions driving the city into the ground and the UAW driving GM into the ground. You may have heard of this time and place in Michael Moore's "Roger and Me".

        Every union struck every workplace as often as possible. In the mall, there would be at least one store which was being struck every time you went. The workers didn't seem to notice that a strike is a (legal) act of industrial sabotage, one which will hurt your employer and thus you also. It should be used as rarely as possible, or else you'll just put the company you work for out of business.

        GM workers were apparently in need of new contracts, despite having work rules so lax that many would show up to work drunk, or not show up at all. Workers would clock each other in, then work their own job plus that of another, then next week the roles would reverse. This of course led to awful product quality. I do realize there was also a good dose of poor engineering going on at GM at the time too, but that wasn't why you'd get a car with the windshield wipers not properly attached or a wrench thrown into a closed space before it is welded shut.

        It was during this time that the UAW agreed to changes which should have changed things so that the most desireable job occupied by the highest-paid workers wasn't a chip handler (floor sweeper). And so that it didn't take 13 people just to repair a press (the mechanical-expert repairman would not be allowed to even flip the switch to turn it back on afer he was done, that was against work rules, it required an electrical specialist). See, the union liked it when a press couldn't be repaired, because then the workers on the line still had to be paid, but didn't have to do any work. Because of this, often equipment would break on Friday, right when some services became unavailable until Monday. If the line was behind on production, the workers would sometimes be paid overtime to man the presses all weekend so that when it was repaired (which it couldn't be), the line could be restarted to catch up.

        It was during this time that the UAW extracted the concessions from GM that are strangling them right now. Those are very very high-levels of expensive health care, and the "jobs bank" which pays workers 92% of their salary for up to two years to do nothing but show up at the union hall and not work. GM knew these would be expensive, but the UAW's side of the deal was to work toward a Jobs Classification Reduction to fix the problems I mentioned above. Well, as soon as the contract was signed, the UAW forgot about what they were supposed to do, and GM took it in the shorts badly. They know how much this would cost them in the future, and so they were trying to move out of union strongholds like Michigan and to the south. Meanwhile, Michael Moore reports why is GM closing plants in Michigan when they are profitable (on a current account basis)?

        And as to the government not being involved? It's just not true at all. Unions are exempt from anti-trust laws so they can work across state lines and company lines to extract higher wages and benefits. Whereas employers cannot collude to maintain their end (see the rulings against major sports leagues, even though one of them is exempt). Also, some states (Michigan being one of them) have a "union shop" law that says that if a workplace is declared a union shop, you must join the union to work there whether you want to or not. Every grocery store is a union shop in Michigan.

        Finally, if there actually is a strike, the unions employ thuggery and illegal sabotage. My grandfather personally beat up replacement workers (called "scabs" even though many aren't even replacement workers, just people who want to continue working) on the strike lines against Westinghouse in Ohio (of course, Ohio doesn't do nearly as much manufacturing now, and Westinghouse is destroyed as a manufacturing company and the last useful
        • by bheer (633842) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .reehbr.> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @02:47PM (#14898943)
          > Wrapping up, I would mention that unions are most useful for unskilled and semi-skilled labor.

          I realize this may sound like flamebait, but _most_ of the people asking for unionizaion of IT come from the least skilled end of the curve. You won't see the guys who run Google's data centers sweating it over unionization -- they don't care, they're irreplaceable (apart from HR violations, I guess) and they know it.

          Now, most IT guys aren't irreplaceable -- hard to admit but it's true, especially in a company for which IT is a core/strategic area. 50 years ago a punch card operator used to be a big deal. Today they have been replaced by people who keep our networks running, our OSes patched, our backup tapes safe. They are the equivalent of clerical staff in an 1880s office (being a clerk then was a big deal, btw) -- not key to the business but essential to keeping things moving.

          Ultimately, the issue is also one of trust. IT has to necessarily deal with some of the biggest secrets of the company. They get access to the CEO's laptop, they get to guard the salary database, the works. I don't know if managers would be comfortable having unionized employees in those roles.
          • Now, most IT guys aren't irreplaceable -- hard to admit but it's true, especially in a company for which IT is a core/strategic area.

            You seem to be implying that anyone but the 'creme de la creme' of IT workers doesn't deserve job security, reasonable income, or a decent standard of living. I don't wanna live in your world.
            • Don't come to Australia to do IT work then.

              I've said it before and I'll say it again - The IT industry in Australia is big fucking joke.

              Upper-management generally knows less about computers than a grandmother, anyone's grandmother, even a dead one. Middle-management generally knows enough to fool upper management, but doesn't know enough to fool the techs beneath them, and therefore aren't respected by those techs. The techs on the ground floor, the guys that actually do the work, are ignored until s

        • by Mike1024 (184871) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:04PM (#14899000)
          That's why I don't like unions, because I've seen the end game, not because of some "meme" or because I'm pro-employee-exploitation.

          The union you describe in your post certainly sounds bad, I'd agree.

          However, I'm not sure its true to say that "at least one union is bad, hence all unions are bad". That seems as incorrect as saying "at least one company is bad, hence all companies are bad".

          Michael
        • Man, I wish I could mod you higher than 5. You wrote basically everything I was going to write about why I dislike unions. To me, they are the embodiment of laziness and get paid ridiculous amounts of money for doing little to no work.

        • That's why I don't like unions, because I've seen the end game,

          No, you don't like unions because you've seen one example, and have committed a schoolboy logical error in assuming that that is universally true.

          • ...have committed a schoolboy logical error in assuming that that is universally true

            No he hasn't. Unions are a form of Socialism at the micro scale. For a macro version, look to Italy, France, and Spain where they unemployment rate is much higher than say the US and UK.

            But don't take my word for it. Have fun with these data sets from LOBORSTA http://laborsta.ilo.org/ [ilo.org]

            Repeat after me. SOCIALISM SUCKS!
      • Which is stupid, of course; unions are in fact an admirably free-market solution to the problem of employer-employee conflicts. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that asking someone who calls himself a libertarian about his opinion of organized labor is a good way to distinguish between true libertarians on the one hand, and right-wingers who call themselves libertarians because it's fashionable in certain circles on the other.

        In theory, you're right. But the only way I can see a union using "free market" m
        • Re:Biased headline (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Scudsucker (17617)
          But the only way I can see a union using "free market" means to get its way is to threaten to quit en masse if the employer didn't meet their demands.

          Because that would be stupid for both parties. The workers want a job, the company wants workers. Actually quitting en mass wouldn't do either any good. This is what strikes are for - employees refuse to work, giving managment the option of negotiating or firing the strikers and hiring a new workforce.

          They block enterances and refuse to leave. They harass c
    • Re:Biased headline (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ironsides (739422)
      Without labor unions we wouldn't have ever gained a 40 hour work week or an end to child labor.

      I think you need to retake history. The 40 hour work week was started by Henry Ford, prior to any unions being formed in his company (in fact he was very much against unions). Child labor laws weren't fully implemented enofrced until the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act in the US. Again, this had nothing to do with unions, instead coming from the more "socially concious" individuals.

      What unions HAVE been goo
      • Re:Biased headline (Score:5, Informative)

        by Marlor (643698) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:32PM (#14898430)
        I think you need to retake history. The 40 hour work week was started by Henry Ford, prior to any unions being formed in his company...

        Maybe this was the case in the USA, but in Australia and most of the rest of the industrialized world, the 40 hour work week was earned by unions. In Australia, the "8-hour day" was earned by a collective organization of stonemasons and building workers in Victoria in 1856. Demonstrations were then held by unions to win the same rights for other trades. By the 1880s, the 8-hour day was commonplace in Australia, and "8-hour day" parades were held throughout the late 19th century to celebrate the fact.
        • In Finland it was earned by civil war. Which the unionized workers lost, and got plenty of them executed. But basicly after that experience the employers decided that there would be some improvements required to keep workers raising in straight revolt again. Communists losts simply because farmers where also mostly landowners and the "working class" wasn't majority of population. Too bad russian farmers where practicly slaves to landowners.
      • Re:Biased headline (Score:5, Informative)

        by mrraven (129238) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:52PM (#14898511)
        Nice try stooge for the owners, you are off by about 30 years, with accuracy like that your labor should be worth about 4 dollars an hour on the global market. It's all good until YOUR ox gets gored, right?

        "The struggle for the shorter work week is the thread that ties together the history of American labor. The country's first union 1;the National Labor Union in 1866 issued its primary demand, "8 hours shall bethe normal work day." The NLU died. But the demand prompted action. In 1872 in New York City thousands of building trades workers stuck for the 40 hour week. Some won. But their g~~h-s were lost in a tide of depression. In 1877 Pittsburgh workers, led by striking rail workers, seized the city and adopted a shorter day. They were shot back to work by federal troops.

        1886. Chicago. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (later the AFL) called for a national strike for the 8 hour day on May 1. Nearly one million American workers stopped work that day. The nations industrial centers were hushed. Transportation halted. Some employers yielded concessions. Others sighted their targets.

        *******

        In the 1890's, as wealthy families like the Morgans and Rockefellers tightened their monopolies in industry , Spies' words stood true. The first general strike in the deep south, led by an integrated workforce in New Orleans, won a shorter work day. In this period the U.S. waged two wars. We fought Spain. And the government waged a war on the Western Federation of Miners led by Big Bill Haywood. Casualties in the hundreds. couldn't stop the miners, historically among the most militant of all workers. They won the 8 hour day near the turn of the century."

        http://www.pipeline.com/~rgibson/ShorterWorkWeek.h tml [pipeline.com]

      • "Child labor laws weren't fully implemented enofrced until the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act in the US."

        Unions did not pass labor laws -- only the the legislature can do that -- but they did succeed in getting child laborers out of the work place, thanks to their unionizing efforts. And when legislatures did pass laws , it was due to the grounswell of awareness and support that unions created. Where do you think this 'social consciouness' came from?
      • Re:Biased headline (Score:4, Informative)

        by KenSeymour (81018) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @01:37PM (#14898680)
        While it is true that Henry Ford took it upon himself to institute an 8 hour work day in 1914, it was not in a vacuum. Some unions were demanding first a 10 hour day, then later an 8 hour day throughout the 1800s.

        The interesting thing is that after Ford started the 8 hour day, his competitors followed suit because Ford was achieving higher productivity as a result.

        The Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] article has more detail.

        In 1924, a consitutional ammendment banning child labor failed to pass.

        In 1938, the Wages and Hours (later Fair Labor Standards) Act was passed, banning child labor and setting the 40-hour work week.
        There was a court challenge and and the Supreme Court upheld the law in 1941.

        In 1835, child workers in employed in the silk mills in Paterson, NJ went on strike for the 11 hour day/6 day week.

        In the 1886, the Knights of Labour marched with 80,000 people marched in support of the 8 hour day and in subsequent days, 350,000 workers went on strike.

        It is true that Henry Ford paid better and had a shorter work day than other captains of industry.
        He also hated unions and hoped treating workers better would help keep unions out of his factories.

        But thousands and thousands of workers struck and marched before and after this. Both private police and workers were shot or beaten to death
        as part of the struggle.
        Many of the events had names like Bayview Massacre, and Thibodaux Massacre.
        Local police, National Guard and federal troops have been called in to end strikes.
        For their part, early unions hired people to beat up "scabs" and were not afraid of mob violence.

        It seems so different than the world we live in today. I have ancestors who worked in the mills in Fall River, Massachusetts.
        They were recent immigrants from Ireland and French Canada.
        I went there once and visited a museum about the mills, there were pictures
        of children with missing fingers working in the mills.

        For the most part, people had to fight for an 8 hour day, overtime pay, and to have a childhood.
      • Re:Biased headline (Score:2, Informative)

        by Maxmin (921568)

        I think you need to retake history.

        And you're just making up history. Ford was an early adopter, but was in no way the innovator. He adopted the 40-hour work week long after the American union movement made the 40 hour week one of the top agenda items of workers, along with higher wages, safer working conditions, etc.

        The 1938 labor law was way behind the curve, as many unions had already obtained their demands in the workplace. Ford just knew which way the wind was blowing.

    • I believe slashdot is using a modified version of the classic tabloid method, in which they print a really horrible word in all caps with an exclamation point, then explain that it's really not that bad on page 11b. Observe:

      MURDER!

      The Home Secretary today stated that rising health care costs could be murderous to the nation's podiatrists.

      • > The Home Secretary today stated that rising health care costs could be murderous to the nation's podiatrists.

        Why? Patients can no longer foot the bill?
    • Labour unions are not inherently wrong. However, and it is a fundamental however, practices such as "union only" sites, secondary boycotts, cross site organisations, intimidation, branch stacking and a criminal lack of democratic responsibility are facets of the labour movement that make them abhorrent to many libertarians.
      • Re:Biased headline (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mrraven (129238)
        Of course labor organizations are organized into cross supporting networks, that's the way any successful organization works including the organizations of the ownership and management class. Do venture capitalists, stocks markets, and the WTO/IMF ring a bell? It's more than a bit hypocritical to lament mutual support networks among labor organizations when the ruling class has far lager, more powerful, and more wealthy organizations watching it's back. To say that workers should face a highly organized
  • by Pao|o (92817) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:46AM (#14898251)
    More Australian Companies Outsource to India & the Philippines
  • In an attempt to strengthen their position, NCR employees released a statement to the press that if negotiations take too long, customers may be subject to a devastating year 2007 bug. One technician explained in an interview, "We never saw our clients hardware lasting that long without constant updates and visits by technicians. Who knows what will happen in a few months? Something could break and no one will be able to fix it, 'cause we're the only technicians on the planet that understand the year 200
  • solidarity! (Score:5, Funny)

    by berseken (960503) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:14PM (#14898353)
    I propose a strike of all techies in the US to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters down under. The days off work would only be ancillary benefits.
  • by vudufixit (581911) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:22PM (#14898391)
    How about we announce that we will never, ever do another "computer favor" for a gal that we like, in hopes of "hooking up with them."
        One day, when their machines are hopelessly infected with spyware and their rockhead boyfriends can't do a damned thing, they'll finally value us... right???
    • How about we announce that we will never, ever do another "computer favor" for a gal that we like, in hopes of "hooking up with them."

      How about you grow a set, take her dancing and have her rip your pants off afterwards?

    • My policy, and I recommend this to anyone, is no computer repair/advise/help of any kind until after we have been having sex on a regular basis (the official stated policy is "only my girlfriend gets tech support"). Sometimes it's hard to resist, but don't give in. She will never go out with you in appreciation for what you've done for her, or realize what a great guy you are or bullshit like that. She will just use you as the guy who's willing to fix her computer anytime she asks, with nothing in return
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:23PM (#14898394) Homepage
    We run your financial networks, your ATM's, schools, airports and supermarkets. Every system, no matter how important or secure, has to trust someone and we're it.

    Do not fuck with us.

  • We in the U.S. will see what used to be called a "strike", which for you younger folks is a work stoppage by a self-organized workforce for better working conditions or pay, which management will not grant so they can keep more profits.

    These "strikes" are effectively illegal in the United States. Get some popcorn and watch Olde Tyme organized labour in action. Hope they don't shoot them.
  • If they'd just remove the cap on foreign worker visas like Gates tells them to do [com.com] they wouldn't have these problems with uppity geeks trying to destroy civilization by demanding enough money to attract a decent mate, reliably pay a mortgate and have a couple of kids they can afford to send to college.
  • Unionized tech workers? - How fucked up is that?

    Tech workers can work in just about any industry and can work just about anywhere.

    Here's a clue - IF YOUR JOBS SUCKS, QUIT! Or at least post up on Monster fer-cry-eye

    Tech workers are not like a bunch of UAW factory workers who really have no options other than strike when the company they work for pisses them off.

    UAW workers can't post up on Dice or Monster and expect any offers

    I don't get it, WTF?
  • by Flying pig (925874) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @01:02PM (#14898545)
    Nowhere in the article did I find out what they were threatening chaos with. To be credible, such a threat requires a means. How are they going to threaten chaos? Do they know it's address? Will they send out Maxwell's Demons to reduce the chaos to order?

    Ah, apparently they're threatening to cause chaos. Just another headline to annoy syntax Nazis.

    • To be credible, such a threat requires a means. How are they going to threaten chaos? Do they know it's address?
      A postcard addressed to "Chaos, Australia" should do the trick.

      You could also have some fun mail-bombing, Chaos. Sign them up for lots of useless magazine subscriptions.
  • > NCR's general manager thinks few people in the general community will care about the plight of the palest workforce,

    What, they won't care about the _slightly_darker_ workforce?
  • Just remember to change the administrative password, take away administrative access from manager accounts, and shut down the servers before doing the walkout.

    US Management abuses IT workers and has H1B/L1 Visaed and offshored a lot of IT work putting a lot of native IT workers out of work. Then only paying a fraction of what IT slaries used to be paid, and taking away benfits and forcing native IT workers to work 60 to 80 hours a week with no overtime pay.

    Screw them, change the passwords, remove administra
    • Screw them, change the passwords, remove administrator access, and shut down the servers and then leave for a week. See what happens.

      They fire you and hire someone else to clean up the mess and take your job. Or they offshore the work to India.

      In both cases, the company is hurt a lot less than you are.

  • Your actions towards improving working conditions and living quality of all techworkers have been noted. We all should hail the australian techies for their great actions improving the living quality of us all.
    - Indian Techworkers.
  • Geeks in Unions? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fm6 (162816) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @09:02PM (#14900406) Homepage Journal
    I can't think of any TechnoGeeks I know that would even consider joining a union. It goes against the whole kneejerk libertarian ethos that's standard issue in the geek community. (Comes from reading too much Heinlen and Pournelle I think.) On the other hand, I know a lot of geeks who should join unions, judging from how much they complain about management abuses.

    I remember once sitting in an all-hands meeting listening to our CEO, saying that our wages would be frozen for yet another year, and our benefits further cut, even though the company was seeing record profits, and the company was located in an area where living costs were zooming. His explanation: the stockholders won't let me. I wanted to stand up and say, "No, damnit, what you mean is that you're listening to the stockholder complaints about costs and not our complaints about wages and benefits. They're pushing us to earn less; tell me why we shouldn't push back?" But then I looked at my co-workers and tryed to imagine organizing them into a union — and kept my mouth shut.

    Obviously things are different in Oz.

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