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Telstra Bargaining Update - 30 May 2024

Your Union bargaining representatives met with Telstra again this week, and formally submitted the following claims:

1.  Workplace safety and responsibility

We are seeking to have important representative or legal compliance roles recognised and remunerated by Telstra. This includes, most importantly, health and safety representatives (HSR), fire wardens and harassment contact officers. These are important roles that create a safer and healthier workplace.

Telstra employees who have been elected or appointed into the role of a HSR is to undertake the Comcare approved training course within 2 months of the election. The primary purpose of a HSR is to represent peers in health and safety matters.

However, without the Comcare approved training, a HSR is unable to perform the full range of functions of their role, and are unable to initiate actions available to them under relevant health and safety legislation.

2.  Consultation

We are seeking to improve the provisions for consultation between Telstra, its employees and their representatives, before decisions that have impacts on employees are made.

We argued that simply informing the Union and employees of a decision taken by Telstra following months of planning (such as the recent bombshell that 2800 jobs are in the firing line) is purely lip service and does not provide a genuine opportunity for employees and their Unions to influence the decision maker to mitigate against negative effects on workers and their jobs.

Genuine consultation should also extend to decisions to introduce or extend casual or non-ongoing employment, contracting or labour hire arrangements.

It is beneficial for both employers and employees, leading to early detection of potential negative consequences. It will boost employee engagement in decision making – promoting transparency, fairness and constructive workplace relationships.  

3.  Retrenchment benefits exclusive of 4 weeks’ notice

We are seeking for payment in lieu of notice of redundancy to be in addition to, and not form part of the prescribed retrenchment benefit. This is particularly important considering the recent announcements of a further slew of job cuts. We have also sought for the placement period, which is currently used as the notice period, to be optional where an employee does not see value in participating.

4.  Retail breaks

We are seeking to formalise and specify retail rest breaks in the EA. We have sought for all employees to receive 1 x 10 minute paid rest break where an employee is rostered to work 4 or more hours, and 2 x 10 minute rest breaks where rostered to work 7 or more hours. This break should be in addition to existing meal breaks.

5.  Unpaid overtime

We are seeking a commitment to conduct a joint review involving Unions to investigate and discontinue the systemic unpaid overtime issues which currently plague employees working in the retail and contact centre occupational groups.  

6.   Delegates rights

We are seeking for employees to have the right to be represented by their Union in all employment related matters.  Telstra shall recognise the role of our delegates and other elected Union representatives, deal with them in good faith and provide appropriate paid time and facilities to enable them to perform their roles and for these rights to be included within the agreement.

At this meeting, Telstra also provided its response to some of our claims raised and tabled at our last meeting:

1.   Employees to have the ability to challenge customer feedback score (NPS)

Telstra have rejected this claim – claiming a mitigation process already exists that allows employees to challenge a poor NPS score. The Union has requested further information of the process, which is clearly not well-known and indicated that we believe that an employee’s ability to challenge a poor rating should be strengthened and contained within the Agreement.

2.   Revised working from home / flexible work claim

After originally refusing our claim to protect working from home provisions by including them in the EBA, the union submitted a revised claim. Telstra has again refused this claim, stating that it did not want a formalised process for flexible work. Telstra did agree to add some words that indicate their support for flexible work to be included within the Agreement. We are waiting to see a draft.

3.  Parental leave of 26 weeks

Telstra have refused our claim, stating their current 16 weeks offered is sufficient and any increase would place a financial burden on the business and would detract from any wage increase offering.

4.  Additional ARL and direction to take leave

Telstra have refused our claim, stating that any increase in ARL to compensate for the direction to take leave during a shutdown period was cost prohibitive and places a financial burden upon the business. Telstra also stated that if they increase the amount of leave an employee could accrue before they were able to direct them onto leave, this would be a risk to health and safety.

Bargaining will continue next week and we will keep members updated as talks progress.

In the meantime, should you require any further information, please contact your Branch Official.

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