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I've Been Asked to Commit Conspiracy

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posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:28 AM
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Hey All,

I'll say this right from the start: This is not an exciting conspiracy. Nobody is racing against time to uncover the truth, and nobody is secretly plotting to gain power or wealth from this conspiracy. Is is, in fact, so small that I hesitate to even call it a conspiracy. But a conspiracy is what it is.

As some of you know, I work for a winery and love my job. I'm outside all the time, playing with big machines and growing some of the best grapes in Australia. Our wines win awards and certain ones have won gold medal awards against the best in the world (take that France!). I'm proud of my career and hope to continue it for a long time.

My problem began today. Right now I'm supervising the pruners as they make their way thru the vineyard, cutting last years growth from the vines and leaving small 'spurs' for this years canes to grow. They are all casual workers, who will leave once the job is finished. On average they make excellent money (upwards of $25 an hour) and are paid on a per vine basis, The work is hard on your wrists and hands (as my previous 5 seasons of pruning have shown me). We have a total of 25 electronic secateurs. All of them are Falco brand (a medium – good brand). Each set costs $3,000.

I noticed a lot of the pruners have been complaining about the softness of their blades this season. Usually, a Falco brand blade should remain sharp and not soften easily (unless you cut a wire and then a small part of the blade will shatter off). The blades this season have a tendency to get very blunt, very fast – after one row some are requiring sharpening. This is not normal for these types of blades. Everything else looks the same – same brand name stamped on the metal, same darkish grey colour.

I asked my boss what was up with the blades this year and got a surprise. Basically, to save money, they have been buying cheap Chinese made blades – total fakes. Made of a softer steel and without the ability to keep a good edge. An official Falco brand blade costs around Aus $60. The fake ones we are now using cost around Aus $20. At the time I voiced my opposition to this idea and asked why. Basically it is to save money in the budget. I called my boss a dumb-ass (no big deal) and let it be. I had work to get done and couldn't spend the day arguing with him. I was told to tell the pruners that they ARE official Falco blades. This annoyed the hell out of me.

I didn't realise until I was driving home what implications this really had for the pruners. They all paid a bond of $50 to be retuned after the season if they hadn't used too many blades. This is to encourage them to keep their equipment in good shape. Generally each person should go thru about 3 blades per season. This is outlined in the induction package they get when they join us. I can understand some pruners not wanting to get a new blade off me thinking it will make them lose their bond. I can also understand how pruning with a soft blade can easily cause injury to wrists.

Now, with the official blades it's not a problem. But with the fakes we are now using it's beginning to not only effect the pruners ability to make money (I tally up the totals at the end of the day and have seem small decreases in pay rates) but also in the stress and injury that happens to their hands and particularly their wrists (as the blade is not biting into the wood - rather it is sliding around and producing more torque which gets absorbed by the wrist - before chomping the cane off).

Like most conspiracies, this is a tiny one in the overall scheme of things. But most conspiracies are tiny. They are the ones that go unnoticed every day. To the people not affected by this it may seem like nothing at all. But for the people who are stressing about the ability to work while nursing an injured wrist and a blunt blade it's a huge thing.

It was his attitude when explaining how they found a cheaper source of blades that annoyed me. Why go thru that trouble just to save a tiny amount of money? Why not come out directly and tell the workers about this policy change rather them keeping it in the dark? My boss and I are friends as well, and frequently meet up after work to hang out. I don't have a problem telling him what I think (and did so when he explained what was happening). I have a problem not telling my workers the truth.

At work I don't talk about ATS. But at home I have the ability to talk to people like yourselves that may understand. I'm inclined to Deny Ignorance and let my workers know. I'm just worried about my future in this particular winery if I do and it gets out further up then my boss. I have a mortgage, debts to pay and a life to live (which I've worked hard to achieve). I'm not in a position of official power in my workplace. My boss has four other bosses above him until you reach the top of the pile. I'm above the casual workers, but barely.

So why the hell is this bothering me so much? I feel torn between maintaining the status quo , or standing up and making some noise.

What would you do in this situation? I can give more info if anyone wants it.

Cheers,

Shane




posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:40 AM
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As wrong as it seems mate i would tend to look after number 1 here.

If this job is valued and you wouldnt find another like it easily then i would go with the flow. Its not a major issue and your workmates still have their jobs.

Maybe if you feel strongly about it then some subtle hints in the right direction to get the info out without incrimminating yourself will ease your concience and bring it out into the open.

Not an easy one but not worth losing your job over.



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:40 AM
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This is just another example of a company exploiting their workers, only this time it seems someone with a heart gets to know about it. You know aswell as all of us if you say anything your jobs on the line. Follow your heart.



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:40 AM
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If it were me..i would use as many blades as possible..

While incuraging your co-workers to forgo the 50 bucks,and put your health in front of someones profit..

If this is a start at your company,what will it be next?



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:43 AM
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i think your boss is way out of line on this one, the question in my mind is weather he is scamming it or if it's an official policy of the winery.

if your direct boss is buying unofficial and claiming official blades, then pocketing the difference, there's a serious issue. 25 secatuers with three or four blades a piece per year and $40 in the difference is a 3 or 4 thousand dollar wedge in your bosses back pocket.

i think you need to ask him what the hell is going on, especially if you're worried about your job. if that's what he's up to and he gets caught, which he will if 80% of the laborers are losing they're bond at the end of the season, you might have some hard questions to answer seeing as you knew what was going on.

you'll defiantly be viewed with a suspicious eye in future if not sacked outright.

by the way, just to be clear, i think he's scamming or his boss is. i seriously doubt it's a decision made by the winery, by using the fake blades they'ld be voiding the warranty on the equipment, there's no way they're going to risk the repair or replace bills for 3 or 4k a year. the accountants would have their heads.

[edit on 1/7/09 by pieman]



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:45 AM
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reply to post by shamus78
 


You could try having a chat with your boss and start trying to put the fear in him. I presume that he is directly responsible for all employees at the vinyard. Explain about "Repetitive Strain Injury" and how much compensation could be claimed from a case, especially for providing unfit tools for the job. Explain that if it came to that, then you are not prepared to say, in a court of law, that those are genuine blades.


Originally posted by Redpillblues
If it were me..i would use as many blades as possible..

I like!



[edit on 1/7/09 by Daisy-Lola]



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:46 AM
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Point out to your boss that the blades cost 1/3 the amount of new blades, but you are using more blades, so the cost saving is minimal. Add on top of that the lowered productitivity and trauma to the plants that are being "chewed" apart instead of cut cleanly, and this cheaper blade is costing him money on the bottom line.

Many business try to cut corners only to find out that it was less profitable in the long run. If this is a high quality winery as you say, then that quality should permeate all aspects of the business, including the equipment and the way the workers are treated.

I hope your boss uses his head and understands the situation!



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:47 AM
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are you serious? i mean 100%?

i wasnt sure what a "Falco Pruner" was, so i google imaged it. those cost 3 grand??????



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:48 AM
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reply to post by pieman
 

Good point, although i would be wary about letting your boss know as ive had situations in the past where my boss has lied to his boss in front of me to cover himself leaving me to take the fall despite my protests.



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:49 AM
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reply to post by shamus78
 


Hello Shamus, .... this is your boss, ... and YOU ARE FIRED !!! .... pack up all your stuff and clean out your locker, .... your done in the wine industry ,, ... your done !!!

Your boss if a scumbag, cutting cost's at the expensive of the average worker, .... and I dont mean bonus wise, ... on their body's as well.

.... maybe you can at least talk him into increasing the blade limit for the season so the workers get bonuses. How dare him. Did he used to be a manager at Walmart by any chance ? .... douche.



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:50 AM
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Well, you CANNOT get fired for being a whistleblower on a policy that hurts the employees. The wrist injury thing aside, cutting workers out of a bonus structure because the company made it unfeasible violates work laws. The policy will have to be amended or the blades will have to be replaced with a quality brand.

They can still make it hell on you though, or look for other reasons to fire you. Depending on the State, they might have to have a very solid case or they could be in for some serious wrongful termination liabilities.

You could look out for number one, and no one would blame you. Or you could stand up for what you feel is right and suffer/enjoy the consequences. I see you have a solid dilemma and the only advice I can give you is:

The only thing evil needs to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Not an easy decision my friend.



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:55 AM
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Hi Shane

As a person who used to work in the exact same field with the same responsibilities i understand the dillema that you face. And frankly am not suprised by your boss' decision making here, any method used to cut costs and they will take it untill they realise in the end it will cost them more money.

The fact though he told you to tell them lies is not good, and if their are any longterm pruners in your group it really wont take them long to figure out what the problem is, you know how they like to think they know everything about everything. So maybe they will figure it out then you can tell your boss they already know. Or if they keep pushing the matter i would say to your boss i just have to tell them. There is always oc-health and safety to worry about, it could turn round and bite him on the backside.
As a side i never liked electric snips anyway, but can be usefull on some wood.

I guess just aslong as you stand your ground for what you believe in then your on the right track. Because cutting corners on a farm or vineyard is never the right way to go. And maybe make that point to your boss too.
Anyway now you have made me miss the good old Barossa Valley, i wish you well in whatever decisions you decide to make.



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 07:01 AM
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I'm not worried about being fired or getting a bad rep over this. I've already explained (in less then diplomatic words) what a stupid idea it is. I know when I head over to his house this weekend for a drink I'll probably start getting into him about it. I know we have been under pressure to cut the budget recently and am sure this has come from my bosses boss (who we all dislike).

Tomorrow I'll be handing out new blades to everyone. I care about my workers and am right now mostly thinking of them.

It's just a strange perspective being stuck in the middle of all this.

Cheers

Shane



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 07:21 AM
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To me the only thing to do is tell the truth. I always have, if someone is being ripped off or involved in wrong doings themselves, either way, the words will come out of my mouth until the problems is sorted or I get the shaft (except for family, cant really put my finger on why), which you will probably find is the way it will go, unless your really good friends with your boss, you'll probably find money comes first.

Another option is to ask people to provide there own cutters and remove the bond for the blades completly and pay extra for the work, that way the employees WILL look after there equipment and the boss only pays out on the labour.

Either way your in a pickle, follow your heart, it may lead you to a bin but you can always climb out.



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 07:22 AM
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reply to post by shamus78
 



I'm just worried about my future in this particular winery if I do and it gets out further up then my boss.


If you take this issue up then you may lose your job. That is the reality and there is no point in fighting at the cost of your job.

What you could do is to take a worker into confidence and then make him rally all other workers to raise the issue with the management, that way you will get what you want and you will not come into the picture



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 07:37 AM
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The problem in this industry though, at least in Australia is its very poorly regulated, gone are the days of being employed by the vineyard or the company. Normally you work for a subcontractor company which technically means you are self employed and have no kind of job security. And honestly there is no reason that you shouldnt tell the employees because even if they like yourself think its wrong they will just have to live with inferior blades, its not illegal just not moral. Maybe if it starts affecting their bond then that system needs to be changed. Its the only solution i can think of.



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 07:39 AM
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Originally posted by shamus78
I know we have been under pressure to cut the budget recently and am sure this has come from my bosses boss (who we all dislike).


could be a good way to be rid of him then, there's no way whoever told him to cut budgets meant that he should risk 75k worth of assets for the sake of 3 or 4k. all that torque isn't just damaging the workers wrists.

if this is actually coming from the top down you've got to ask yourself, if they'll use dangerous secatuers to save a few dollars what else are they saving money on. you said you're playing with big machines, do you trust them?



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 08:37 AM
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Good point. Some of our machanery could use another service or two per year.

I think it's endemic to the whole industry at the moment, as we hold our breath and wait to see what the 'financial crisis' is going to do to us. I don't believe it will do anything, but alot of investors are spooked at the moment. No investors means less money for us to spend on our shiny and expensive tractors, harvesters and other equipment.

I should have seen the signs to this at the start of the season (about a month ago now). As I arrived for work, my boss was in the shed servicing the secateurs. Usually they are sent away for a professional service, but this year it's just been us trying to cannibalise parts from other sets and generally fighting a losing battle again the wear and tear that can be expected.

I'm glad the safety angle has been brought up. I'm aware that Workplace Safety laws have not been broken, just bent somewhat. I'm always making sure I'm safe, but now having this knowledge has put me in a position where I'm responsible for any injuries that may occur to my pruners.

Luckily I can talk to my boss like a normal person, and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to make him see my point of view.

Anyway, will update you all tomorrow. Should be fun.

Cheers
Shane



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 09:25 AM
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Originally posted by getreadyalready
Point out to your boss that the blades cost 1/3 the amount of new blades, but you are using more blades, so the cost saving is minimal. Add on top of that the lowered productitivity and trauma to the plants that are being "chewed" apart instead of cut cleanly, and this cheaper blade is costing him money on the bottom line.

Many business try to cut corners only to find out that it was less profitable in the long run. If this is a high quality winery as you say, then that quality should permeate all aspects of the business, including the equipment and the way the workers are treated.

I hope your boss uses his head and understands the situation!


I completely agree. appeal to his senses!!!



posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 09:42 AM
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Originally posted by shamus78
It's just a strange perspective being stuck in the middle of all this.


That's why I am on ATS.

Like you I've seen conspiracies, some big, some small in my various jobs. Almost always about money, but if not money then power.

It's a very difficult thing to have to choose between your paycheck and the truth, especially when telling the truth will only cost you your job and not really change anything.

I chose to tell the truth and change careers. However, the ugly reality I soon realized is that this happens everywhere. Everyone has to make their own decision when confronted with this type of situation.

Good luck.



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