IT Employment

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Time for IT to Organize?

By Oldefar ·
I have stated from time to time that perhaps it is time for IT workers to think about organizing. I ran across this link in the Dallas Morning News today -

The link is for US workers and is sponsored by the CWA, a US union. However, anyone working in IT who feels they are being exploited should look at this site.

So what is the answer? Is it time for IT workers to look to unionization? Is there an alternative approach such as cross company and cross border trade guilds that work on behalf of all IT workers? Or do we all simply press on looking out for number one?

Personally I think the issues go beyond single companies and single countries. The Indian developer pulling work away from the first world developer today will see the Chinese developer pull it from him tomorrow. Work will move tomorrow even easier than today. Call centers, NOCs, data centers, and all aspects of engineering and production are no longer tied by geographic constraints.

I see no incentive for company management, rewarded by short term profit margins, to take a broader or long term perspective. However, the same technology that makes my job so portable makes every IT worker my peer and coworker. In the end, we are talking about how we, the global IT worker community, makes our livelihoods. That is a sizable community if we make it one.

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Open Source Unions?

by Oldefar In reply to Time for IT to Organize?

For reference, look at

The article is a bit long, but the key concept is that a union could be across an industry instead of focused on simply collective bargaining with a particular company or for a company segment. The members can be in a minority position at work, and values beyond collective bargaining could be provided by membership. In short, more of a trade guild than a traditional union.

Australia IT has something along this line and it would be interesting to hear their experience.

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Actually Ken the Australian IT

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Open Source Unions?

Sector Union and I use ther term very lously is a bit of a tootless tiger while it has the potential to do a lot for it's members it has so far failed in even the very basic bits that they have tried to obtain and I'm not talking about wage increases but something far more basic like when a company goes broke you can't be sure that you will recieve anything from any outstanding pay and when it comes to entitlements well the nicest thing that I can say is it is a joke. One computer company here in Brisbane just disapeared over a Christmas New Year break they where taking orders and repairs up until Christmas eve and when the staff turned up for work the next week after the Christmas New Year break there was nothing in the building not even the carpets.
The customers lost their money for any computers ordered, all the repairs had disapeared and none of the staff ever got any of their entiltments like holiday pay, Super or anything. Recently the Auto Workers went out on strike down South not for higher wages but to have some form of security for their entitlemts if the company ever went broke. Of coursre the Gocvernment steped in and handled the problem in their usual way you know greedy workers holding the country to ransom. So far there has only been one case where workers entitlements have been paid and then it was the Brother of a Highly Placed Government Politicion who was involved so the Government paid the money then a couple of months latter took on the auto workers for exactly the same reason.
Even when Anset went broke the Government imposed a levy for every person who flew $10.00 per head I think and now a little over 2 years latter they have eventually scrapped the Levy after raising far more that they claimed they would and still most of the workers haven't been paid out their existing entitlements while at the same time they can't claim unemployment benifits because they have money owing to them and although it doesn't look as if they will ever get it the Government still consideres it as an asset. Strangely enough the only people who have got all their entitlmemts where the very Senior managment but nothing new there as they where looking after number one and to hell with the rest of the 16,000 odd employies.

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So what is the fix in Australia?

by Oldefar In reply to Actually Ken the Australi ...

Apparently there is significantly more collusion between various goverment officials and business leaders in Australia than in the US. When our business leaders make out like bandits it is more likely that they had lawyers who exploited the law than any direct intervention. In part, this is because our federal judicial branch serves for life unless impeached, so the legislative and executive branch has much less influence.

Strikes are one tool, but represent an adversarial condition between management and labor. A better solution is a partnership approach, but this requires a long term perspective and an element of trust. Maybe this is impossible due to human nature, but maybe not.

What would you do if you had the power to make immediate changes to the work environment in Australia?

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I'd persopnally like to see a

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to So what is the fix in Aus ...

Colaberative effort but in every case that I've seen so far strike action was the last resort. None of the srtikes that I mentioned previously happened because they could withdraw their labour it was always a "last resort" whith the employers string the unions along promising a lot and delivering nothing.

Even here in Queensland a susposely "Labour" State the government rushed out and got all their workers to sighn Work Emoployment agreements, but with the typical shortsightness that seems to come with Government all these Labour agreements where signed within a few months of each other and you can guess what happened when they expired all together 3 years latter.
The whole idea of these "Volentary Employment Agreements" was that you take a bit of pain now and latter things will get better well they didn't they got a lot worse. Now this is totally off topic but it is a good exapmle the Nurses in the Public Hospital system are generally a hard working and thoughtful bunch who have seen their working conditions go downhill rapidely while atthe same time seen the exective staff's working conditions improve dramaticly, when there new Volantary Work Agreement came up for renegation they entered into these discussions in good faith and 2 years latter they where still getting the same thing from the Government less money more hours and a lot more responibility {that was less staff that where responsible for more patients} The Governments answer in the meantime was to employ more unskilled staff to work in the wards while this wqs susposed to lessen the work load all it managed to do was make things worse because they where next to useless they could not despence drugs or anything else other than do some paper work and call a nurse or whoever when a patient went bad who they where supervising. Well one nurse to 40 patients just doesn't go round and when they went out on strike (a very minimal one at that} they where called all the names under the sun but what made it worse for the Government was that the Doctors supported the Nurses.
This whole country is riddled with the same type of things and in one case where both the unions and company worked togther for their mutial benifit on the Rockhampton docks whenr they had world best pratices and no industrial disputes the company along with Government support just locked aut all the workers and hired new ones. Now while this happened all over the country with the claim that we are improving the waterfront situation it only goes to show just how out of control things have got.
Currently here we have a Federal Government how supports Big Busines and has the idea it's always the workers fault. We constantly see the top exectives who screw up being paid multi million dollar redundancy packages while the workers have to strugle for a $$.00 a week pay increase. It is susposed to be too expensive but it's ok for the bosses to take home 1.5 Million dollors a week and if they screw up the company get paid upwards of 10 million to leave.

Until there is a radical rethink and reorganisation things will remain the same unfortantly the other side of politics is no better just the oppisite way "Up the Worker" until we reach some form of middle ground things will continue downhill fast. While the company CEO's think that their position is a licence to print money for themselves and their workers are nothing more than a necessary evil I really can't see any way to improve things.

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Now while I was in this work force

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to I'd persopnally like to s ...

I had to belong to a union and follow it's instructions up until the time that I became "Managment" but in all of these companies it was my workers how came first because without them I couldn't do my job and we had no money comming in. But I continually saw the big bosses just ripping of the system to their advantage while I had to fight like hell for any benifits for my staff. In one radical step I insisted that all my staff wages be included in my budget and I would run within my budget and then have a performance allowence for anyone who performed above and beyond their duties. Well that trial worked very well for 6 months and just as it came time to award bonuses the whole thing was scrapped because it was going to prove too expensive to pay the bonuses to the workers who had increased our setions income 300% by working all hours and hardly ever being off call. I can't remember the exact figure but it was something like $20,000.00 thta was susposed to be paid out in bounses. But he CEO awarded himself a 1.5 Million productivity bonus for my departments vast increase in productivity while the workers got nothing I was offered a couple of thousand dollars for my efforts in improving the position and the poor guys who did all the work and deserved the accolades got nothing, well needless to say I told them where they could shove their bonus as their actiond had caused me to brewak a promise to my staff and I quit. The upper managment saw thisas an act of munity or something like that and promptly threw me out of the door they fired me and instead of me working out my notice I was given one months pay in lew of notice. When this got out all the service staff quit but they where only workers who where easily replacable so no big deal. Now that particular company no longer has a presence in Queensland and when I worked there Queensland was a bigger market than the rest of Australia. Incidently most of those staff now work for me and while they constantly get better offers I can't get rid of them as they seem to have some sought of misguided loyalty to me as they know I won't screw them. But I only have a very small company with 10 tecks and one office manager + myself and we will never make any real difference to the workplace enviroment but at least we make money and have some fun. I'd like to see this on a much bigger scale as it is those workers who perform way beyond what I consider as necessary and when ever I call one of them in to tell them to slow down a bit I am always asked "I am I doing anything that you aren't prepared to do?" This sought of stops me because I won't place any of my staff in a position that I'm not prepared to go into first {Lead by example} and often after I've pulled a 3 day job non-stop someone will come in and see me sleeping in the back of the office and just make sure that no-one disturbes me in any way whatsoever. Recently I lost a whole day as no one would wake me up because that thought that I'd done my fair share for the time being.

I know it's not a complete answer but it works for me and my small company and I'm constantly reminded of one of the US Presidents words "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country" I think that sums it all up people have got greedy and are out for number one and to hell with everyone else and unless we are prepared to work in a co-operative manner things just can't get any better. I really hate it when I hear things like "Greed is Good" as I honestly believe that while you are intitled to a fair day pay for a fair days work you don't need to be greedy to make money.

Unfortantly I'm in the minority but at least my staff are happy and they are all still with me as while I expect them to work they all know that I'm fair and what's best for them is whats best for me, so if they have a problem they all know that I'll do whatever I can to help them and that their family comes first if anything goes wrong I just tell them to drop what ever they are doing and go to their family's help. But mostly it is other staff who tell me what is going on as unless there is something like a serious illness or possible death in their families no-one wants to bother me with their problems.

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Wow and Hurrah

by maxwell edison In reply to Now while I was in this w ...

Has the 1930 character limit been removed? (Or is Colin's message just an anomaly?)

And Colin, about the quote, "...ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country", that particular President was John Kennedy. It was part of his inaugural address in January, 1961.

(The whole thing is worthwhile reading indeed. John Kennedy, by the way, would, most likely, be a Republican today, not a Democrat.)

It's too bad that more people don't buy into that notion (ask not...) today. Too many people expect their country to do for them, provide for them, and to serve them. There are too many takers, and not enough contributors.

Actually, the same sentiment could be applied to every aspect of life: ask what you can do for your country, your community, your employer, your family, your spouse, your fellow man. What if everyone thought that way?

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Actually Max I didn't think about the 1930

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Wow and Hurrah

Word limit I just expected to be told that I had exceeded the limit and then cut and past on. But of course you're right it was certianly JFK and it was something that we all should live by.
Unfortantly there seems to have been a very basic shift from what is good for our country is good for us to what is good for us is good for our country which isn't correct. I'm sure you'll agree with that.
When I first left Uni a couple of us set up a business where we designed and built race cars and components and we felt it was our duty to offer help to the then current Uni students so we had an open door policy for any mech engerining students and their teachers to come in and do some on the job training rather than just the book learning which was fairly usless though necessary as if you knew that you should then know what not to do.
Even back then I didn't feel confortable in asking one of the staff to do something that I wasn't prepared to do particuarly if it involved any form of dangerious activity but since that time I've seen managers just tell their staff to do something that at best is dangerious if not deadly and expect the staff to do it without question.
It is this that I really find offensive as well as the fact that the worker seems to be treated as some form of disposable comodity who is easily replaced when something happens. Aftere these are human beings not bits of equiptment that you throw out when they break I realy think that any form of respect has gone missing in the last couple of decades. But then again I did have a woman complain of Sexual harasment by me against her because I opened a door for her.
It now seems that good manners are considered as sexual harasment and frankly I want no part of that as I think that is where most of the trouble lies in people thinking that they have a right to something rather than an obligation.

I hope that makes some form of sence.

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Actually we might get a Spell Checker next

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Wow and Hurrah

That way you lot won't have to put up with my terrible spelling or worse typing.

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IE Spell Check

by TheChas In reply to Actually we might get a S ...

My spelling is also gotten to be very bad.
(I blame it on all the spelling errors in my local newspaper!)

I started using a program called IE Spell Check.

It works on ALL content in text boxes in IE.

The program is donation-ware, and can be found at

It supports US, Canadian, and UK English.


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Thes is gud two no

by maxwell edison In reply to IE Spell Check

Spel chekers r gud two use but sumtymes dont corect other gramer mistakes.....

such as there or their or they're


two or to or too


yours or your's

and so on

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