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2019-07-19

EBA2019

EBA UPDATE - 18 July Meeting

Talks continued with the Unions’ Single Bargaining Unit (SBU) and Telstra meeting this week. A meeting earlier this week was cut short and resumed yesterday due to an unforeseen urgent matter being heard in the Fair Work Commission.

Conversion of casual to permanent employment

We have reached agreement on many aspects of this new clause, which will provide a process for casual employees to request permanent employment following 12 months of regular casual employment.  This request can only be refused on reasonable grounds.

It has been agreed that those who convert from casual to permanent employment will have any prior period of regular continuous service recognised for the accrual of entitlements such as long service leave, parental leave and redundancy, along with a retrospective credit of annual and sick leave accrual for that same regular and continuous period of casual service.

Voluntary redundancy

A proposed change to the voluntary redundancy process will provide for employees to volunteer for redundancy at an earlier stage than is currently provided for.

The additional time will allow for greater scrutiny of processes, such as job swaps, to be fully exhausted – maximising the opportunity for an impacted employee to remain employed by Telstra. In some instances, it will also allow for outcomes sooner rather than later, thereby reducing the period of uncertainty and the angst that comes with it.

Placement period

The SBU has been pushing for the option of payment in lieu of continuing employment during the Placement Period for individuals who have accepted voluntary retrenchment. 

Telstra’s general view is that the Placement Period is useful for providing transition services and pursuing possible redeployment opportunities. 

The reality is, if an employee has volunteered for redundancy and volunteers to opt out of the Placement Period – the employee would be doing so with the understanding that they would be walking away from their entitlement to pursuing redeployment opportunities and availing of the transition services on offer. 

In our view, this would maximise attention placed on identifying redeployment opportunities for employees impacted by change who do not wish to cease their employment. Consequently, it would provide Telstra with overall savings by not providing transition services and assistance to those who do not wish to participate. 

However, despite this rational argument, Telstra’s response is; those employees can opt out of the process, but they will forfeit payment for what otherwise would have been employment during the Placement Period. 

Discussions will continue around this matter. 

Clause 45

Yesterday’s meeting was very much centred around this resurrected proposal – with the SBU confirming that the proposal was highly contentious across our membership and, as it was currently proposed, was too broad in potential application to be supported by the Unions. 

The apprehension and speculation around the intentions behind Telstra’s proposal, the possible applications and potential unintended impacts has been widely felt and expressed. 

Although Telstra claims it does not have any concrete plans, it did seek to position itself in a way that would enable it to purchase the National Broadband Network if the network was to, at some stage, be privatised by the Federal Government. 

This potentially means the creation of a subsidiary company, or companies to purchase and operate the network, whilst utilising the proposed Clause to shift employees to those subsidiaries without triggering a redundancy situation. 

Whilst generally, the SBU would support any bid by Telstra to generate work and revenue that would allow our members employed in traditional areas of the business to retain their employment with the company, we recognise that members also need certainty around the preservation of their terms and conditions of employment during times of change. 

Therefore, the SBU representatives have resolved to deliberate further around the topic and seek expert legal advice as to the possibility to deal with such a matter that allows Telstra to pursue their claimed motives whilst satisfying the Unions’ concerns for the preservation of your terms and conditions of employment.

Pay

Clause 45 discussions dominated the majority of the meeting and pay talks did not ensue in depth. However, agreement was reached for any future wage outcome to be paid in addition to the 1.5% already paid, rather than altering and replacing it. Consequently, any pay outcome achieved through these talks will be recognised by a new EBA in addition to the 1.5% already paid, rather than the pay rates contained in the current, nominally expired Agreement. 

We will continue to keep members updated as talks progress. In the meantime, if you require any further information or have feedback to share, please contact your State Branch Official.

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