Wednesday, 10 April 2019 04:29

Telstra workers set to stage second strike today

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Telstra workers set to stage second strike today Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Telstra workers across Australia will walk off the job on Wednesday (today) following what they claim is the company's continued refusal to provide them with fair pay and conditions.

The main impact of the strike will be on maintenance, including diagnostics, testing, new service provisioning including NBN connections, fault repairs and investigations.

Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union Communications Division national president Shane Murphy said the workers had been forced to take protected industrial action for the second time in the last two months as Telstra had refused to negotiate a fair enterprise deal. The first strike took place in March.

“It’s unfortunate we’ve got to this point, but Telstra has left us with no other option,” Murphy said in a statement.

“We’ve been forced to take protected industrial action because Telstra is trying to force workers to take a pay cut in real terms."

Last June, Telstra announced it would effect a net reduction of 8000 employees and contractors by 2022 and reduce two to four layers of management, leading to the cutting of one in four executive and middle management roles. This would mean cutting 9500 jobs in all, as 1500 new positions are being created.

Said Murphy: “Workers have spent many months trying to get Telstra to come to the table with a fair wage offer to no avail. Instead of paying their workforce fairly and giving Australians the quality service we deserve, Telstra management seem intent on axing jobs, slashing wages and driving down services.

“Telstra management is running our once iconic telco into the ground.

“Telstra chief executive Andy Penn, whilst taking home millions, is overseeing the axing of thousands of jobs and attempting to force the remaining workforce to accept a pay increase well below inflation – effectively a pay cut.

“Telstra workers are committed to providing Australians with the best possible service, but they’re being hamstrung by management preoccupied with giving themselves bonuses, axing jobs and driving down workers’ pay and conditions.

“Workers don’t want to be in this position. Telstra management can easily put an end to this by simply putting forward a fair and reasonable offer that enables members and their families to keep pace with the cost of living.“

Contacted for comment, a Telstra spokesperson told iTWire: "We have been given notice that members of the CEPU, one of Telstra's three unions, may strike today. This is one of a number of actions they have sought to take.

"While it is disappointing that the CEPU has decided to encourage this action in what is a challenging time for our business, we respect the legal right of the union and its membership to do so."

The spokesperson said only CEPU members, who made up about 10% of the total employee base, were involved and it was up to them to decide if they wanted to participate or not.

"With the last similar action, only around 2% of employees participated and there was no impact customer services," the spokesperson added. "The stoppage does not apply where there is a threat to the life or the personal safety or health of persons (e.g. Triple Zero, medical assist).

"We have plans in place to ensure we avoid disruption for our customers and the vast majority of our people who are not participating in any action. We remain committed to constructive discussions with our people and unions to reach a new agreement."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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