EBA Negotiations Update – Where are we at and how do we progress the claim?

Ref: SLD 19/56 –13 May 2019

CWUnion Victorian Telstra Members Bulletin
EBA Negotiations Update – Where are we at and how do we progress the claim?
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CEPU representatives Shane Murphy, Clint Thomas, Dahlia Khatab and John Ellery, CPSU reps (and a number of individual bargaining agents) met with Telstra on Tuesday 7th May following almost 2 weeks of zero Protected Industrial Action. The return to bargaining followed the removal of a number of overtime and Recall Bans, as well as the 1 hr stoppages prior to the commencement of paid work.It is clear that the selective targeted action by members, particularly in areas of high reliance on the provision of Telstra services to the “big end of town” (such as cutovers and high level service affecting faults), brought Telstra back to the table. Members who participated in the bans and stoppages are to be congratulated – it’s all about what you have done to progress this problematic and frustrating negotiation – but given the history of how Telstra runs its Employee Relations agenda, and its relationship with staff and the Unions, nothing surprises us. Don’t ever forget that the Telstra Employee Relations group were at the forefront of rolling out the much hated agenda of Howard’s Workchoices laws (including being leadhouse with some mining employers on the roll out of AWA’s, non-union ECA’s etc) from 2006 onwards. The 2008/09/10 Telstra EBA dispute reflected this right wing agenda.

In an act of goodwill by the Union, the overtime and recall bans were suspended (around April 24) , and whilst we understood that Telstra had no real issue with the 1 hr stoppages prior to paid start time, they were, after Tuesday the 30th of April, not re-notified. So at this stage in the EBA dispute, we currently have no bans or stoppage action in place. This is leaving the negotiations vulnerable, as our only pressure points on Telstra come from an ability to take protected industrial action.

What have we achieved so far?

The Redundancy agreement is safe!

To reiterate, Telstra is not wanting any changes to those areas of the proposed EBA. Despite the whispering campaign that is being peddled, (particularly where redundancies are hitting) the outcome of redundancy is protected. Even at the current time, an expired EBA still protects your redundancy outcomes. In the very, unlikely event of an attempt by Telstra to “terminate” the current expired agreement, the process is so long winded that the likelihood of this occurring is miniscule. Telstra have indicated they are not prepared to move to “termination”, so at this stage in the negotiations, we see very little likelihood of this occurring. There is no ability by Telstra to unilaterally reduce the 80 weeks.

Transfer of business (eg to a subsidiary)

Telstra have indicated, following the massive rejection by Telstra staff in the formal EBA vote (last year) of the initially worded agreement, the so called proposed clause 45 wording relating to “transfer of Business” has been removed from the bargaining table.

What hasn’t been achieved?

A reasonable and fair pay outcome

In most EBA negotiations, the issue of the final pay outcome is usually the subject of a lot of posturing and feeling the other side out.  In this case, upon resumption of the talks, it was agreed last Monday 6th by negotiators from all the Unions involved that the absolute bottom line on any pay offer that could be endorsed would be a figure of 2.5% plus some form of either back pay to October 1, 2018, or a “sign on” payment (which should be subject to member approval), however, we were not going to indicate this to Telstra at the first meeting on Tuesday due to tactical considerations. Previously we had indicated that the 3% per year figure as contained in the current EBA could provide a possible resolution, if it were a simple “ rollover” of the current EBA (with all its bonuses and no changes to the clauses etc.)

Telstra have been adamant, dogmatic and stubborn and not prepared to move on the offered (and in our view “woefully inadequate”) 1.5% per year over a 2 year agreement for Workstream employees. They have repeatedly indicated this is all they were prepared to offer. That has been their position for a number of months. Despite urging from John Ellery, that no figure should have been put to Telstra, in the midst of the negotiations on Tuesday, a SBU caucus was called and the majority decision to offer up 2.5% (plus a hastily constructed, on the spot $1000 sign on bonus) as the SBU’s position on the pay rise was put. Telstra are currently considering the counter offer and advise they will not respond until next Tuesday 21st (ie after the Federal Elections) so they currently hold the whip hand. Clearly, we have put a formal lower “offer” of 2.5% plus a sign on bonus (not a “rock bottom line” number as previously discussed with the SBU caucus on Monday) and we have handed over control of the negotiations to Telstra – their timing, their delay, and we have no pressure on them via our only limited method – protected industrial action. To have placed a figure in front of Telstra, at that stage of the negotiations, was clearly the wrong strategy – for instance – where do we go from here?  Without a serious re-boot of our claim (and a possible return to the trenches) we are in the hands of Telstra. Things need to change urgently because 1.5% is totally unacceptable.

In addition, for those members on the “Job Family” variable pay arrangement (the so called “Compa ratio” table using a “pay pool”), it doesn’t even provide a guaranteed 1.5% pay rise for a large number of staff, and a discounted pay rise for others – all determined by the boss. This arrangement is not acceptable. At the least, we need a minimum guarantee of a pay rise (ie not 0% for these staff)

We want to hear from you

Victorian Union Members need to decide whether the current bargaining position is endorsed. We want to get this stalled negotiation back on track, and have a fair and reasonable pay outcome for all Members. For instance, should we formally withdraw the stated offer? Should we up the claim? Are we prepared to pressure the Divisional officers responsible to fight for it? Are we prepared to sign up every non-member in our work place? Are there other things we can do to push this along?  We have set up a confidential feedback survey line (www.bit.ly/vicbranchebafeedback) and urgently require your comment.

In solidarity,

SUE RILEY Secretary, CWU (T&S) Vic | 0439 762 455 | sriley@cwu.asn.au
JOHN ELLERY Assistant Secretary, CWU (T&S) Vic | 0419 823 580 | jellery@cwu.asn.au
JONATHON WRIGHT, Recruiting Officer, CWU (T&S) Vic | 0490 503 829 | jwright@cwu.asn.au
LEROY LAZARO Secretary, CWU (P&T) Vic | 0422 546 814 | Leroy@cwuvic.asn.au
VAL BUTLER Industrial Officer, CWU (P&T) Vic | 0408 766 444 | vabutler@iinet.net.au

Communication Workers Union (CWU) Is The Communications Division Of The CEPU


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