Signal E-news 660

In this issue:
(1) Overtime or emergency duty?, CWU and Telstra in dispute
(2) Know your rights: Telstra end of day arrangements
(3) Full Bench to consider Telstra modern award
(4) NBN Co-negotiations resume
(5) More telco workers needed says industry group
(6) ACMA EA stalemate continues
(7) CWU Xmas office closure

1. Overtime or emergency duty? CWU and Telstra in dispute
The CWU has notified the Fair Work Commission (FWC) that it is in dispute with Telstra over its calling employees back to work after ordinary hours.The particular incidents relate to the Global Operations Centre (GOC) in Melbourne. But the issue potentially affects all members who are asked to return to work to perform unscheduled duties.The current Enterprise Agreement (EA) only allows employees to be recalled to work, without prior notice, in two circumstances – either under the Emergency Duty provisions or under Essential Customer Servicing arrangements.

Emergency Duty is paid at a rate of 200%.

In the case of Essential Customer Servicing there is a schedule of payments made to staff who make themselves available for recall. Then if they are actually recalled ordinary overtime rates apply.

Telstra management appears to be trying to avoid paying either of these entitlements and are just paying employees ordinary overtime rates.The CWU considers this to be a breach of the EA. Any other members encountering the same problem should report it to their state branch.

Members will be kept informed of progress in the case.

2. Start of Day – End of Day – Section 10 of the Telstra EBA
What are your legal requirements resulting from the current Telstra EBA if you are automatically dispatched?

For many years, the EBA legal issue of the “unpaid” half hour “give” on either side of your paid day has been poorly understood, particularly by Telstra team leaders, who seek to extract as much goodwill from CWU members as they can, no doubt to improve their KPI’s, and gain “brownie points” from their bosses.

You are only required to do the following at the start of day:


  • Commence log in/on no later than half an hour prior to the paid start time. You then work out how far the first allocated job is, then commence to travel in the remainder of the unpaid half hour. If you work out that the first job is around the corner, you only have to be there at the start of the paid time, so there is no need to get the wheels turning immediately. If the job is greater than the remaining unpaid travel time (ie within the unpaid 30 minutes) you would start the wheels rolling as soon as you have finished logging in/on.

(NOTE: The only function being done in the unpaid time is logging in/on and driving – no other work function should be undertaken – customer contact, dropping in at the depot to pick up stores, picking up other staff, fast testing, etc, etc – logging in/on and driving ONLY. Any work function carried out in this time is regarded as overtime, and should be claimed as such)

You are only required to do the following at the end of the day:


  • Travel home in the unpaid half hour.

(NOTE: This is the only function required at the end of the day – if it is apparent that you will not be home by the expiry of the unpaid half hour, you should contact the team leader/work management centre to ascertain whether you should leave early, or get approval for overtime. Travel is the only requirement in the unpaid half hour at the end of the day – you should not be logging off, dropping in to the depot, contacting customers, sorting out stores (particularly at home), etc – these are paid functions, and should only be done inside paid work hours, or in an overtime situation.)

For further information, contact the Victorian CWU Branch Office, 9663 65815

3. Full Bench to consider Telstra modern award
Discussions with Telstra about the content of a new modern award have at last been finalised and a date has been set for the matter to go to the Fair Work Commission.The application for the Telstra Award 2014 will be heard by a Full Bench on Wednesday 17 December in Canberra.

The content of the award has been agreed upon by Telstra and the relevant unions – CWU, CPSU and APESMA – after nearly two years of discussions and, recently, eight conferences chaired by Commissioner Lewin.

Commissioner Lewin has had a long involvement with the Telstra awards and was able to offer guidance about the modernisation process while not himself being part of the Full Bench that will hear the application.

The Commissioner’s strong advice was to reach agreement on as many matters as possible rather than inviting the Commission to determine them. With this advice in mind, the unions have negotiated a package which removes some seldom-used or obsolete provisions (such as the 34 hour week for Operators) but which preserves most core award entitlements in areas such as hours of work, leave, overtime payments and penalty rates.

If approved, the new award will provide a much stronger safety net for bargaining than the modern industry award which, as E-bulletin readers will remember, Telstra initially wanted to adopt.

The CWU successfully opposed that move. It is now up to the Commission to determine whether the content of the modern award will reflect Telstra employees’ strong views in favour of retaining their current award conditions.

Members should be aware, however, that whatever the Commission’s decision is, it will have no immediate effect on conditions. These are protected by the Enterprise Agreement (EA). The new award will only become relevant – as a safety net – when the next round of EA negotiations begins next year.

4. NBN Co negotiations resume
Enterprise Agreement discussions with NBN Co have resumed after a considerable pause during which the federal government appears to have tried to impose its public sector wage policy on the company, with mixed results.

CWU officials met with NBN Co representatives on 9 December to discuss the company’s position. Basically NBN Co is proposing there be no major changes to the entitlements provided for in the existing NBN Co and CEPU Technical Employees Agreement, with the new agreement to last at least 3 years.

So it is not seeking the “productivity offsets” (i.e. cuts to conditions) that the federal government is demanding from public sector employees.What is does want, though, is to move to a performance-based pay system, while restricting overall wage rises within that system to around CPI.

So some employees would get a real wage increase (above rises in the cost of living) and some would get less. This is presumably being proposed with an eye to the government’s “productivity” policy.

The CWU does not oppose the inclusion of some form of performance component in employees’ total pay package. It does, however, believe that all employees are entitled to a uniform pay rise that at least preserves their real wage levels (i.e. keeps pace with CPI increases).The CWU has conveyed this view to NBN Co. Negotiations resume on 18 December.

5. More telco workers needed says industry group
Australia is facing a shortfall of up to 7,000 telecommunications workers, according to a newly formed industry group.

The Australian Digital and Telecommunications Industry Association (ADTIA) says the extra workers will be needed to complete the NBN roll-out as well as to meet demand in growth areas such as video and triple-play services.

According to ADTIA industry and operations manager Gabriel Giofre, the organization is aware of immediate vacancies for around 450 workers in areas include cabling and line work, civil contracting, splicing, premise installations, mobile tower construction and planning and design.

However, the industry is currently experiencing rapid growth and ADTIA believes more needs to be done to ensure the future skills demand is met. The problem is heightened by the fact that the average age of the current telecoms workforce is around 40.

The existence of telecoms skill shortages, especially in relation to the NBN roll-out, is not a new issue but to date not enough has been done to quantify the extent of the problem or work out how to solve it. Over the first phase of the NBN roll-out, NBN Co and its contractors resorted to offshoring certain functions (design) and engaging 457 visa workers on construction. Meanwhile, local youth unemployment levels continue to rise.

ADTIA says it intends to produce a detailed workforce needs study early next year. It is to be hoped this helps focus the government’s mind on how the local telecoms workforce can be renewed and expanded to meet the growing needs of the sector and the community at large.

6. ACMA EA stalemate continues
Negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) at the Australian Communications and Media Authority continue to be hamstrung by the federal government’s public sector pay policy.

Across Commonwealth agencies and departments, workers are being asked to accept loss of conditions AND real wage cuts as part of new agreements. Needless to say this has not proven to be an attractive offer and to date no new agreements have been reached, except with the armed forces whose members have no say in the matter.

It now seems unlikely that there will be any significant movement in the ACMA negotiations before the end of the year. Members will be kept informed, however, of any progress.

7. CWU Xmas office closure
The CWU office will be closed from 11am on the 23rd December 2014 and will re-open on the 5th January 2015. The Officials and staff would like to wish you all a festive xmas and happy new year. If you need assistance during this time please contact officials on their mobiles or leave a message on the office phone

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