CWU MEETS WITH TELSTRA ON REDUNDANCIES
The CWU has begun consultations with Telstra about the latest round of redundancies, announced on 27 October.
Altogether, there will be a net loss of just under 400 jobs. Of these, 135 are permanent Telstra employees and the rest agency staff.
As previously reported, the redundancies are spread across a range of business areas, with the largest number to come from Customer Service Delivery.
Telstra proposes to close the Perth Assurance Centre and centralise this function in Townsville. The move will mean a reduction of 80 permanent and 25 agency positions in Perth and the loss of 178 agency positions in Townsville.
In CSD Asset Management proposed changes would lead to a reduction of 70 Telstra and 14 agency roles, with 34 new positions being created.
The other areas affected are GES (2 positions), ITS (48 positions), the Whitemail and Billing section of the Global Contact Centre group (11 positions), Telstra Business (15 positions) and Global Services –IP delivery (up to 36 positions).
The fact that these redundancies have been announced so soon after the most recent round of enterprise bargaining has caused considerable anger among CWU members. And because of delays in certifying the new Enterprise Agreement, there has been uncertainty about what redundancy procedures would apply.
Telstra has now confirmed that those redundancies which were notified before 12 November, when the new agreement takes effect, will be dealt with under the current EA (i.e. 2012-2015). That means those affected by this current round of redundancies who want to take a redundancy payout will have access to it without going through a redeployment process.
For those wanting redeployment, Telstra says it will be actively looking to find new positions in the company. Obviously, though, where centralisation of functions in involved, relocation will often not be an option.
TELSTRA EA CERTIFIED
The Telstra Enterprise Agreement 2015-2018 has now been certified and will take effect from 12 November.
Certification of the new Telstra Enterprise Agreement (TEA) was delayed while the Fair Work Commission (FWC) considered claims that certain employees should not have been allowed to vote on it. While the delay did not affect the payment of wage rises in Telstra, other provisions, including changes to redundancy processes have been on hold since the agreement was voted on.
Over 20,000 employees out of a potential 28,000 participated in the EA ballot, with a clear majority (just under 60%) voting to accept the agreement.
But at a FWC hearing on Thursday 29 October, a bargaining agent argued that the agreement should not be certified, primarily because Telstra employees on expired individual contracts (AWAs and ITEAs) had been allowed to vote in the EA ballot.
It was argued that this was unfair because these employees would not (necessarily) be directly affected by the provisions of the agreement.
The following article from Workforce Daily (WFD) is provided as background to the certification challenge:
TELSTRA EA CHALLENGED OVER VOTES FROM INDIVIDUAL AGREEMENT WORKERS
WFD: The Communications Workers Union (CWU) has backed Telstra in a hearing to certify the company’s proposed enterprise agreement (EA) in an attempt to fight off a challenge that the group was not “fairly chosen” because it included workers on Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs).
Last Thursday (November 5) ex-CWU assistant secretary Ken Hardisty, represented at the hearing by ex-secretary Dan Dwyer, brought a challenge in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) against certification of the Telstra EA.
Hardisty argued the group to be covered was not “fairly chosen” because it included workers on AWAs and Individual Transitional Employment Agreements (ITEAs).
Telstra’s proposed deal was voted up by 59.4% of the more than 20,000 workers who voted in September. The CWU opposed the offer because of its performance pay provisions and increased powers for Telstra to redeploy workers, weakening redundancy protections.
Hardisty and Dwyer lost office in CWU national elections in July.
Hardisty told Workforce Daily workers on AWAs and ITEAs made up 30% of the Telstra voters which was “unfair” because “they don’t suffer any of the negative effects of the EA”.
Hardisty complained that Telstra told workers on individual agreements that they would receive a pay rise in line with the EA if it was voted up, but there was “no certainty [of a pay rise]” if it were voted down, an alleged inducement the CWU complained about during the voting period.
“It’s unfair they get to vote on an EA that doesn’t apply to them – they don’t get the adverse effects but they’re told there is a positive [if it is voted up],” he said.
Hardisty said he believed the CWU should have supported his application and he “[didn’t] believe what they’re doing is in the interests of their members”.
He said AWA and ITEA workers would also be disadvantaged in the long run by the EA because it promoted the norm of performance based pay which would erode the ability to negotiate pay rises.
Workers Risk Being Made ‘Industrially Stateless’: CWU
A CWU statement (above) blasted Hardisty’s application as “petty, disruptive and devoid of any substance”. It accused him of “holding up the agreement … for his own selfish ends”.
It rejected his arguments about the impact of AWA and ITEA workers, saying it had given “significant consideration to arguments concerning whether the voting population was ‘fairly chosen'” but “found them without merit and acted on advice to reject them”. “While the union opposed the EA during the ballot, we respect the outcome of that ballot,” it said.
A CWU spokesperson said Hardisty’s application was “dangerous” for the 8,000 AWA and ITEA employees because it would “remove their right to revert back to the EA and [risked] … the employees being ‘industrially stateless’ or worse, subject to an earlier obsolete agreement without fixed pay increases”.
“Hardisty had ample time to make these procedural objections. He was entirely silent when he was an elected official of this union in charge of those negotiations,” the CWU spokesperson said.
The CWU also submitted to the FWC that Hardisty – who represented 13 Telstra employees as a bargaining agent – did not have standing because he was not eligible for appointment.
Hardisty said the right for AWA and ITEA workers to revert to the EA was not a “significant factor” in whether the group was fairly chosen because “they’ve had at the very least since March 2013 to come across [to the EA]”. “They’ve had the opportunity for quite some time and have no intention to do so.” He said employees on individual agreements should only get a vote on collective agreements after they had elected to revert to it.
FWC reserved its decision.
“Reprinted courtesy of Workforce, published by Thomson Reuters, phone (02) 8587 7682”
The Vic Branch had been, as previously reported, constantly urging the Divisional Office to challenge the ‘scope’ of the agreement (through the certification process or any other means). We were not successful in achieving this outcome and the statements/allegations attributed to a “CWU spokesperson” do not reflect the views of officials of this Branch.