Esselte Australia, which is owned by the giant US-based J W Childs Corporation and has an annual turnover of US$1.5 billion, has proposed individual contracts (AWAs) to their employees during negotiations for a new union Collective Agreement.
The AWAs severely cut back the conditions, allowances and penalties of Esselte workers.
In the latest development, union officials have accused the company of planting a secret listening device near where they meet the striking workers.
The bizarre discovery comes amid admissions from the employer that he was video-taping the strikers and claims he had warned them that they would be bashed by their colleagues.
Esselte boss Barry Starr denied management had planted the device, (which could instead be an RFID type tag used by some security firms whose patrolman has to get near or touch this tag with his equipment as he is doing his round); nevertheless Starr admitted he was keeping the workers under video surveillance "to stop them breaking the law".
Starr also admitted he warned the workers there would be consequences for their actions and that they were angering their workmates.
"I said they were creating problems for themselves and there were a lot of angry people in there," he said.
Three of the workers have signed statutory declarations stating Starr went further.
They claim Starr told them words to the effect of: "If you get back in there to work, there are some angry people. When you are in the corner they will bash you up or they will damage your car and the company won't be responsible."
Just like the Radio rentals workers in Adelaide who had to withstand a similar campaign of thuggery and disinformation, the Esselte workers will win if they stand firm and remain united.