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2019-07-05

EBA2019

EBA UPDATE: 4 July 2019

Talks are continuing with the Unions’ Single Bargaining Unit (SBU) and Telstra meeting yesterday, where it was promised they would be in a position to respond to the SBU’s counter-offer.

Redundancy, transfer of employment and “Clause 45”

Prior to getting in to pay related matters, Telstra raised an issue which they say has become critical to them and to securing a new EBA.

It centres around when redundancy benefits would be payable in circumstances involving a Transfer of Business, or what has come to be notoriously known as “Clause 45”.

Granted that yesterday’s proposal around the matter differs from that rejected by members, it still has flaws and requires further scrutiny.

To remind members of what it all means: the proposal would allow Telstra to offer employees, who are impacted by redundancy situations, employment with a subsidiary company (a company that Telstra controls), so long as the positions are substantially the same and the terms and conditions of employment are no worse.

In situations where an employee accepted this new employment, their employment would be terminated with Telstra, without receiving redundancy benefits, and employment would commence with the new company. The Telstra agreement would continue to apply to them in their new employment until such time as it was replaced, or terminated.

In situations where an employee rejected this new employment, the employee could be retrenched from Telstra with no retrenchment benefits payable.

The entire SBU expressed extreme disappointment with Telstra resurrecting such a controversial clause which had previously been put to bed. The SBU outlined initial concerns and aspects of the clause that were too vague to give any consideration to.

The SBU’s initial reaction was that while the relevant industrial instrument (whether the current, or subsequent EBAs) continue to cover employees following a transfer, these can be replaced with inferior terms and conditions.

Telstra’s response could be characterised as expressing a genuine interest in ensuring their final proposal for the clause would no longer be viewed as a “boogieman” tactic, and our initial reaction would be considered.

The Union SBU and Telstra will take time to consider the implications of such a proposal and continue discussions surrounding it at the next meeting. 

Pay claim

Discussions then moved to Telstra’s response to the SBU’s counter-claim on pay, tabled on 7 May.

As a reminder, the counter-offer consists of:

  • A 2.5% p.a. wage rise
  • A lump-sum sign-on bonus to be paid in lieu of backpay back to October 2018 when the 1.5% wage rise was paid outside the EBA
  • The 1.5% already paid outside the EBA to be protected in any new Agreement
  • Reinstatement of a guaranteed minimum wage rise for Job Family employees who obtain a satisfactory rating. 

For clarity, this counter-offer was endorsed following Telstra’s repeated rejection of 3%. It was authorised by all members of the CWU bargaining committee, including Shane Murphy, Clinton Thomas, Dahlia Khatab and John Ellery, along with the CPSU and Professionals Australia – representing the three Unions who make-up the SBU. 

Continued publications by certain minority elements claiming otherwise are false and misleading. 

Telstra continues to maintain their financial vulnerability in their economically challenging and competitive environment and the proposal they have tabled includes the following:

  • A 1.8% p.a. wage rise over the next two years for workstream employees
  • A 1.8% pay pool for distribution to job family employees according to the matrix – ie. No minimum guaranteed increase
  • No position on whether allowances would be increased in line with the wage rise 

The SBU tabled a preliminary view that the offer was not acceptable – particularly in light of Telstra’s resurrection of “Clause 45”.

The meeting concluded with both sides resolving to consider their positions and reconvene within a fortnight to revisit the issues of pay and Clause 45.

We will update members following that meeting.

In the meantime, if you require any further information or have something you’d like to share, please contact your State Branch Official. 

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