Australia’s largest telco, Telstra will see its employees walk off the job tomorrow (Tuesday, March 12). The strike action is a result of disputes between the company, employees and union. regarding fair pay and conditions.
The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) had originally planned to undertake minor forms of actions which would’ve had minimal impact on customers, however the CEPU say Telstra have escalated the dispute by threatening to dock workers a full day’s pay for engaging.
The union argues that the industrial action was going to be taken outside of paid working hours, so the suggestion of docking the pays of employees who worked that day, does seem a pretty big stretch. In response the strike action will now occur across the country.
CEPU Communications Division National President, Shane Murphy, said the telco’s attempt to cripple workers’ ability to take symbolic action left them with no choice but to move straight to a full general strike.
“This week we notified Telstra that we planned to take a minor form of protected industrial action. The planned action would have seen workers refuse to log-on to Telstra’s job allocation system 30 minutes prior to their paid start time. This was designed to be a symbolic action to represent workers’ discontent with Telstra’s pay offer, while having minimal impact on customers.
Disgracefully, Telstra responded to this by notifying workers that they would be punished with the removal of a whole day’s pay for each and every day they engaged in this minor action within non-paid hours.
Telstra’s threat to dock workers of a whole days pay for this minor action, during unpaid time, meant that workers would be locked out of their employment and customers would be significantly impacted.
Telstra’s response shows the contempt the executive group has for its workforce, and for its customers.
The reason we’re taking any protected industrial action is because Telstra is trying to force workers to take a pay cut, in real terms. Workers have spent many months trying to get Telstra to come to the table with a fair wage offer, and all Telstra is doing is axing jobs and slashing wages.”CEPU Communications Division National President, Shane Murphy
Whichever way you look at it, industrial action is never good for customers (the people I care about the most in this). It’s ugly when these disputes make it into the public, as you wish the company and employees could reach an agreement amicably and maintain services while doing so.
So while your phone won’t stop working tomorrow, it sounds like most non-essential services will be impacted, expect delays when requesting service from Telstra tomorrow, or if you can, wait till Wednesday.
Telstra, like Qantas and many other Australian businesses (banks included) are trying to leverage technology to make the business more efficient. Most of the time this benefits consumers, but the downside is the employees who’ve been made redundant. The general strike also comes on the back of the announcement that Telstra would slash 9,500 jobs.
The strike will primarily impact maintenance, including diagnostics, testing, new service provisioning including NBN connections, fault repairs and investigations.