The CWU met with Telstra on Thursday 18 February to seek information about the employment implications of Telstra’s new contracts with nbn.
Late last year Telstra was awarded two contracts for maintenance of sections of the nbn network which involve the ongoing use of Telstra copper – a Copper Sub-Loop Agreement and an Operations and Maintenance Master Agreement.
The Copper Sub-Loop (CSL) Agreement basically extends the Interim Maintenance Agreement with nbn which Telstra signed up for late last year. It involves the maintenance of those sections of the FTTN network that lie beyond the node but which have not yet been declared fully Ready For Service (RFS). It can potentially operate – and so provide work to Telstra members – until the roll-out in all areas currently served by copper is finished (currently scheduled for 2020).
The Operations and Maintenance Master Agreement (OMMA) contract relates to ongoing work on the wireline sections of the nbn once an area has been declared Ready For Service.
The initial contract is for four years and accounts for roughly half of the total copper-based work that will be available over that time. The rest of the work will be shared between contracting companies BSA and Service Stream.
Areas within the NBN footprint which will be served by HFC – ie some 34% of total premises, located predominantly in metro areas – have not yet been allocated.
Obviously these contracts represent work opportunities for CWU members. At the same time they bring into focus questions around the longer term impacts of the nbn project on employment in Telstra.
For instance in areas such as Perth and most of metropolitan Victoria and NSW Telstra has not won OMMA work. While in the short-term there will continue to be work in these areas under the CSL contract, in the longer term a significant retraining effort will be necessary if there is going to be work in Telstra for current CFW workers.
Some retraining has of course already been done under the 2011 agreement with the Commonwealth. But the pace will need to pick up over the next 18-24 months if jobs are to be retained.
The CWU will continue to engage with Telstra on these issues. The union understands that the company intends to provide detailed briefings to employees about the new contracts in the coming weeks.