Internet chat rooms are being used by an increasing number of workers to air grievances, often turning cyberspace into a battleground between staff and management. Company secrets or new policies that have not been officially announced are being leaked to outsiders in chat rooms and frequently become news headlines, while some bosses use chat rooms for public relations purposes in labour disputes. Kevin Au Yuk-fai, an assistant professor at Chinese University's department of management, said poor staff relations or a lack of communication between senior managers and lower-level workers made it necessary to find alternative ways to vent anger and frustration. 'Many local companies are still operated in a traditional, authoritarian style. The workers can only take orders from the boss and have no room for discussion,' he said. 'Many workers use the Internet to speak out about inequalities such as pay cuts or lay-offs.' Fellow university management professor Fu Pingping agreed, saying the traditional Chinese management style created barriers to communication while chat rooms offered anonymity. In December, senior police management banned access on police computers to an officers' chat room because of 'inappropriate content'. The Web site, which is still running, has raised questions about police manpower management and, since the killing of 23-year-old constable Leung Shing-yan in March, about the safety of beat patrols by lone officers. Some public doctors have used their Web site to call on Medical Council chairman Dr Lee Kin-hung to resign. He was criticised for not defending the profession after the council's controversial ruling in April to clear Queen Mary Hospital doctor Tung Hiu-ming for using a mobile phone during an operation in March 1999. Cathay pilots are currently using an international pilots' Web site to present a united front against a management proposal that reportedly penalises those who take too much sick leave. Last month, the Hong Kong Examinations Authority launched an investigation into a possible A-level Chinese examination leak by a teacher at a Ma On Shan school based on an anonymous tip-off in an Internet chat room.