posted on Jul, 1 2009 @ 06:28 AM
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
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
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.