Workers now get chance to snoop on bosses

As civil rights advocates express concerns about managers snooping on their workers' online activities, a labor union in Australia has hit on the idea of letting workers find out more about what their bosses are up to.

The New South Wales Labor Council launched Wednesday a Web site called Bosswatch, which tracks links between apparently separate companies and executives.

It provides an interlinked corporate database, whose main aim is to highlight networks of influence operating behind the scenes with players including company directors, shareholders and subsidiary companies, the council said in a statement.

"Bosswatch will be a campaigning tool for workers who want to know who is exerting influence on their employer," Labor Council secretary John Robertson said in the statement. "By exposing these linkages, Bosswatch will become a potent tool in the struggle to civilize globalization."

The information presented is all publicly available but has never been linked through a single database, the council said. The Web site contains a search engine which can be searched by executive or company name.

Clicking on an executive's name shows all the salaries and other benefits accruing to the executive from all the companies they are associated with. Clicking on a company name shows the financial results, shareholding structure of the company and links to directors and other senior executives.

The database will allow unions to share information about corporate influence across industry to get a better idea about the makeup of the Australian economy, Robertson said.

Bosswatch also runs campaigns identifying pressure being exerted by multinational companies on government policy. Bosswatch recently discovered that a government report encouraging Australian companies to outsource IT functions to India was sponsored by a large multinational.

Bosswatch can be found at http://bosswatch.labor.net.au/.

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