Telstra finally twigs to collectivism, but not equity in pay
Telstra are seeking to terminate all expired AWA/ITEA’s at the Fair Work Commission. In general, the union agrees with the notion because we disagree with individual contracts, where there is no bargaining power and prefer collective Agreements where employees are on the same conditions (generally speaking). Unfortunately in the early 2000’s, Telstra created their own problem where employees were provided options to transfer to various workplace instruments. First were individual contracts such as Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA’s) and then in mid- 2000’s Individual Transitional Employment Agreements (ITEA’s), and Non Union collective agreements [ECA’s], in addition to the Union negotiated Enterprise Agreement which has two pay classifications – Job family (2i 2ii, 3i, 3ii etc) and Workstream (CSSW,SW,CFW,TW and TFW). Job family was created to save Telstra money, as when you’re on job family the pay increases are from a pay pool, whereas Workstream employees receive the annual increase of the Union negotiated pay increase in the Enterprise Agreement. Unfortunately this created a division with employees that we still have to live with, as some employees were enticed to sign individual contracts on the promise of better pay. Basically Telstra’s intention was to de-unionise and destabilise collectivism.
So now, Telstra have decided to terminate the individual contracts. This means your instrument of employment is the Enterprise Agreement however, you will either be on Job family or Workstream.
We suggest you:
- Check your contract (expired AWA/ITEA). We know most of them were a standard form of contract offered on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis, and there was no negotiation, which was never the intent of so-called individual contracts, they were all the same. However some individuals had certain conditions written in to their contract such as unlimited sick leave or job search provision. Telstra are stating that if any individual raises their particular circumstance with them they will honour it. It is not yet determined how this will occur. They initially suggested a letter outlining the special conditions, however this is not binding or enforceable. (more on this later)
- Find out what your equivalent position is in Workstream and Job Family. Telstra will write to every impacted individual in April and notify them of their classification. There is nothing stopping you initiating this now and we encourage you to do so. To be eligible for Workstream after termination of AWA/ITEA, your contract must have expired before 24th Sep 2010; you did not work in a Retail outlet, and you perform work in Customer Field workforce (CFW) or Technical workforce (TW). Unfortunately many of you will not have a choice i.e. if your job falls into CSSW, TPW or SW. (See section 15 of Telstra Enterprise Agreement 2019-2021)
By law, Telstra need to notify impacted employees of their intention to unilaterally terminate all remaining AWA’s and ITEA’s, however the process (termination) will take 90 days from the date of their Application. There will most likely be a Full Bench hearing. (Individual terminations by agreement are more expedient.) So, there is plenty of time to assess job classifications. It is important that you understand how this is arrived at and that there is a mechanism to appeal this classification if you disagree (more on this later).
It is your right to object, appeal or be heard at Fair Work, however the process is largely administrative.
There will be no change to years of service, redundancy and leave entitlements, and defined benefit superannuation.
The current Enterprise Agreement expires this year on 30/9/21 and bargaining should commence 4 months prior. First priority should be to dissolve two rates of pay!
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.
Branch Industrial Organiser