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2017-08-15

Telstra Code

Turnbull Government Policy and the Telstra EA

Today all Telstra employees will be receiving information from Telstra about proposed changes to the current Telstra Enterprise Agreement 2015-2018.

Later this month, you will be asked to vote on these changes so it is important that all members understand what they involve.

Why the change?

These changes (“variations”) to the EA are being proposed by Telstra in order to ensure that the current Agreement complies with the Turnbull Government’s Building Code 2016.  Only companies that comply with the Code are eligible to tender for “building work” that is funded (above a certain threshold) by the Commonwealth.

Although the prime targets of the Code are the construction industry and its unions, “building work” includes telecommunications projects such as the NBN and other Commonwealth funded work in our sector, such as Defence contracts.

If Telstra is not “Code compliant” it will not be able to win contracts in these areas. That means less work for CWU members and other Telstra employees.

What does the Code do?

The Turnbull government’s Building Code is above all anti-union. It is explicitly designed to restrict the ability of unions to intervene in the workplace to protect members’ interests.

It also forbids any restrictions on the use of contractors and so helps contribute to the growth of precarious employment.

For these reasons, the CWU is absolutely opposed to the Code. But we realise that if Telstra (along with other companies in the industry) is not compliant it will be our members who lose out.

The changes Telstra is proposing do not have any direct effect on your employee entitlements under the EA.

They largely affect consultation processes such as those that occur when there is major change in the company. For instance, under the proposed variations, the CWU (and other Telstra unions) will have to show they have members affected by such change before the consultation requirement is triggered.

What next?

The CWU is confident that these variations to the EA can be managed in such a way to ensure that appropriate consultations will still occur. We are involved in ongoing discussions with Telstra about how future arrangements will work but have agreed in principle with Telstra about the need to be Code compliant.

More detailed information will be available in the coming weeks. It is expected that a ballot will be held around the end of the month.

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