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2015-02-13

Eric Abetz

Coalition government stymies NBN Co. pay rise

Negotiations with NBN Co for a number of new Enterprise Agreements, including one covering CWU members, have been stymied by the federal government.

The government is determined to impose its public sector pay policy on each and every public sector worker – and that includes NBN Co staff. So no pay rises in NBN Co, at least for those covered by agreements, unless employees agree to productivity “off-sets” i.e. trade-offs of conditions.

Although negotiations with NBN Co had not been finalised at the end of last year, the company had indicated that it would consider a real pay rise (i.e. above inflation) without any major changes to conditions. But that is evidently not good enough for Employment Minister Eric Abetz.

Not, mind you, that there are not plenty of other areas were efficiencies could probably be achieved in NBN Co.

NBN Co’s last annual report shows there were just under 3,000 people employed there at June 2014. This is a large number for a company barely beyond start-up phase and based on a model which minimises direct employment at the operations level through extensive use of outsourcing.

The CWU does not take pleasure in seeing anyone denied a pay rise or put out of work. But if the government is looking for productivity gains, perhaps instead of hitting award-based employees it should start closer to the top.

NBN Co has now advised the CWU that it will soon be putting a revised proposal on the table. Members will be kept informed of further developments.

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