Telstra EBA update – meeting 1
Despite lockdowns across multiple states, bargaining commenced last Thursday (22/7) for a new Enterprise Agreement with Telstra. Divisional and Branch Officers represented the CEPU. They were Shane Murphy, James Perkins, Clint Thomas, Dahlia Khatab and John Ellery. Two other unions were represented (CPSU and Professionals Australia). At this stage, no other individual bargaining agents were present, as the NERR (Notice of Employee Representational Rights) had not been circulated to the Telstra staff at that stage. We await additional Bargaining Agents being added to the negotiations, if indeed, they are nominated.
Commitment on existing conditions
Telstra announced from the outset that while bargaining for a new agreement meant that all matters could be negotiated – they wanted to assure employees that the 36.75 hour week, personal leave entitlements of 15 days and the redundancy framework would be maintained as is regardless of how negotiations unfold. When questioned about all the other “key employee entitlements” there was vagueness which led to some further discussion,
Telstra detailed its proposal to negotiate four different EBAs – one for each of the areas proposed under their planned structural changes.
This will mean one Agreement for each of ServeCo, InfraCo Fixed, InfraCo Towers and Retail. When questioned on this, Telstra provided rationale that the four agreements would mean simplified agreements specific to each group.
The Union bargaining team has not yet had time to consider this issue in any great depth but at this stage, our position remains that – we still clearly prefer one agreement for the entire Telstra group workforce. The Union has asked Telstra to provide further information about the proposed scope of each agreement.
Voluntary “flexibility” options
Telstra has proposed changes to the Agreement that would allow employees to work more “flexibly”. What is encompassed in the word “flexible” could mean very different understandings, depending on which side of the bargaining table you are on. Particularly, they’re looking at allowing employees to enter in to split shift arrangements, working from home where possible, and working outside the current ordinary span of hours. A prepared set of clauses were tabled that had obviously been worked on for some time. The 7 page document of clauses concentrated on span of hours (currently 7 am to 7 pm), shift arrangements, and the notion of “split shifts”.
Telstra claims these options will be entirely based upon agreement by the individual employee, who would be able to terminate at any time said agreement at any time, and is also seeking to have the changes implemented through a variation to the Award.
The Union is reserving its position on this until we have had an opportunity to properly scrutinise the various proposals once further detail is revealed. At this stage, we find it peculiar that this “flexibility” area is being looked at, as there is considerable flexibility in the current EBA (clause 21) allowing a variety of options that are initiated by the employee, subject to approval by the employer.
It was most disappointing to have to commence bargaining under the shadow of further T22 job cuts. It seems Telstra is back to business as usual, in stark contrast to some good moves made early on in the pandemic, including the temporary delay to cuts.
We’ve called on Telstra to reconsider going down this path, where the goodwill it earned with the right decisions made last year would be quickly erased by continuing to attack working families – particularly at a time where the two thirds of the country is in lockdown, under some of the harshest restrictions we’ve seen yet.
We will keep members updated as talks progress. For any queries, contact the undersigned.
Branch Industrial Organiser
|Communication Workers Union
|CEPU Communications Division (CWU)
|Telecommunication and Services Branch
|Victorian Telecommunications & Services Branch
|m. 0439 762 455 | e. email@example.com
|m. 0419 823 580 | e. JEllery@cwu.asn.au