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2016-03-04

look local first

CWU queries Telstra on 457 visa workers

The CWU is hearing reports that Telstra is using 457 visa workers for work that could be performed by its own employees. 

As is typically the case, Telstra has not hired these workers directly. They have been engaged by Cyient, an Indian-based outsourcing company currently engaged by Telstra, evidently to provide both Telstra wideband and NBN design services. 

Also typical is the fact that Telstra is evidently requiring its employees to train the 457 visa workers in the specifics of the job. 

The CWU has challenged Telstra over this arrangement. We have pointed out that 457 visa workers should be skilled when they arrive i.e. they are supposed to be used to meet a proven local skills shortage. 

If training is required then they shouldn’t be engaged in the first place. Instead that training should be offered to local workers - ideally, in this case, Telstra employees whose jobs may be at risk as a result of the NBN. 

We have also queried whether Cyient has conducted the required market testing to establish that there is a skill shortage in this particular area. 

Telstra has now told the CWU that the workers in question represent a minority of the contractors it is engaging, through both Cyient and other provider like Visionstream, to make up for shortfall in internal design capacity. 

It says the Cyient 457 visa workers are qualified engineers who are receiving only Telstra-specific training, not training beyond that. 

The union is continuing to pursue this issue to ensure that external sources are not used by Telstra to avoid retraining and redeploying its own current employees so they can do such work. 

Members with any knowledge of this matter or of similar arrangements should contact their state branch.

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