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Monday, 21 June 2010 10:06

$100 million retraining sweetener wins ACTU backing for NBN deal


The $100 million promised to Telstra for staff retraining under the proposed NBN deal has won over the ACTU, which says the deal will be good for jobs and the national infrastructure.

The unions welcomed the deal with ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence saying a key element was the provision of $100 million for training and skills development for Telstra staff to assist with the broadband network rollout.

"This deal helps resolve major barriers with the project and is a major step forward," he said. "It means everyone working in our communications industry and particularly Telstra employees can have greater confidence and job security.

"The National Broadband Network is a massive infrastructure project that will be important to the future of Australia's economy, driving productivity and growth'¦Unions are pleased that the deal starts to address key aspects of the workforce requirements for the project."

Lawrence called on Telstra to "conclude its negotiations with its employees over a new collective agreement for the company, describing the heads of agreement as "another indication that Telstra's senior management want to move on from the stubbornly aggressive and counter-productive stance of its former CEO Sol Trujillo."


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Ed Husic, national president of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, which represents the majority of Telstra's field workforce, said: "It's essential to ensure Australian workers have the skills needed to build and operate the broadband network and that we maximise the creation of good jobs locally. The NBN project will generate a jobs boom for an industry that has suffered waves of redundancies.

"To be ready for this, we need to train up current telco employees - to help them move from their 'copper-present' to a 'fibre-future'. The $100 million set aside for training is a terrific outcome."

He added: "We also want to secure decent jobs for our members and ensure they have the prospect of good careers in a sustainable and successful Australian communication industry. "That's why unions are in discussions with the NBN Co over employment conditions for workers on the project."

It is likely, as with the Tasmanian NBN rollout, installation of the NBN will be contracted out by NBN Co. Its Tasmanian contractors have already faced accusations of unsafe work practices and inadequate staff training.


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