Sunday, 11 October 2020 05:54

Union slams NBN Co over paying senior staff six-figure salaries Featured

Union slams NBN Co over paying senior staff six-figure salaries Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The union that represents workers and contractors at NBN Co has described as "appalling" the fact that three-quarters of the staff are senior employees who earn six-figure salaries, while hundreds of jobs at base levels have been slashed.

Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union national president Shane Murphy said: "It's disgraceful that NBN Co are slashing hundreds of base level jobs whilst senior staff continue to pocket massive salaries.

"The announcement to axe 800 jobs was made in July – with many of those job losses to impact on essential network design and construction jobs.

"The Federal Government's NBN Co is axing over 800 jobs at a time when Australians are relying on the service more than ever, not to mention that we're in the middle of a national unemployment crisis.

"The Federal Government's latest budget is supposedly all about jobs – so why are they not intervening to protect these vital jobs from the chopping block?"

The report, in the Nine Entertainment newspapers, said more than 850 employees were paid above $200,000 annually and more than three-quarters earned six-figure salaries.

Said Murphy: "​Furthermore, NBN Co contracts work to their 'delivery partners' who then sub-contract that work to their 'principle contractors' who then either subcontract it again, or hire low-paid, underskilled workers to complete a job they haven't been properly trained to perform.

"Instead of throwing money into the NBN Co's currently broken system, we need to invest in an effective employment model. What we have at the moment is a Government endorsed pyramid scheme."

The report said the NBN Co had confirmed that 110 of its workers were paid between $300,000 and $400,000 and 34 received base salaries above $400,000 before bonuses.

"It's not the workers' fault that they're not being offered the training, pay or hours sufficient to get the job done. Nor is it the customer's fault for being furious about delayed, failed and shonky installations," said Murphy.

"It's become so bad that everyday people are avoiding switching to the NBN altogether, over fear that they'll be in the same boat – stuck with an inferior connection, or none at all. It's a pretty dire situation when, in many cases, legacy internet infrastructure is better than the new, which is billions of dollars over budget, as it is."

The NBN Co has been losing money right from the start and is now expected to cost about $57 billion.

Murphy said: "At each stage of the way, the 'delivery partners' get to wipe their hands clean of the mess they've made for customers, all the while pocketing cash and looking the other way. It's a system that is clearly failing customers, it's failing workers and it's failing taxpayers.

"The only winners are these middlemen who sit back and rake in the profit with no accountability for the mess they create – at the expense of taxpayers and the end user.

"The Federal Government needs to step in and fix this problem immediately. This NBN project has been riddled with issues from the very beginning.

"We are calling for the Federal Government keep NBN Co employees, who are not eligible for JobKeeper payments, out of the dole queue. Sacking communications workers during a time of national crisis is ludicrous.

"We're also urging the government to throw the current pyramid model in the bin and for replace it with a direct employment model that delivers equity value to both workers and taxpayers."

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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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