Telstra walks away: a member’s view

The email below was written by a new member.  This member took their concerns about Telstra’s bizarre actions straight to Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  We don’t need to editorialise about the corporation’s actions – here’s a view straight from an employee’s perspective:

Dear Julia,
My name is (J) and I write to comment in relation to Telstra Corp Ltd’s decision yesterday to cease negotiations with the Unions in relation to the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
I was relieved to read in Fairfax newspapers that you have already clarified some facts on the issue, because as you know Telstra has justified walking away from the negotiating table by focusing on the so called “side agreements” put forward, and stating certain elements of the Union’s requests are “illegal”, as well as saying they want their EA employees to be able to vote on “all the issues, not just some of them”.
My personal belief (as a Telstra employee on an AWA that has about 4 years to go until its nominal expiry date) is that Telstra’s reasons for yesterdays’ decision are more fundamental. I believe that Telstra want to avoid, at all costs, any provision for staff on a non-expired AWA to convert to collective agreements before the AWA’s nominal expiry date. This would be in context with Telstra’s push to re-offer AWA’s late last year to all employees, shortly before they were outlawed. Frankly, I think it is disgraceful behaviour from such a large & profitable company.
More and more people in Telstra (and no doubt many other companies) are now realising that all AWA’s were designed to do was give the employer more power and control, and reduce conditions and remuneration. I have experienced this in my very own department, where new staff that have been employed recently doing exactly the same job role are getting thousands of dollars a year more than I am, even though my tenure is longer. This is simply for the fact that they are employed on an ITEA.
Julia, you and your Government have taken steps in the right direction and I applaud that, but I urge you to treat this situation as a priority. To really improve the workplace relations landscape in this country here and now, their needs to be a mechanism for people on AWA’s that have not expired to convert off them anyway – the situation with Telstra that is happening now will surely be repeated with other large companies as Enterprise Bargaining discussions come up in the future.
It now appears Telstra will try to remain with the status quo for as long as possible, forcing people to serve out AWA’s they do not want to be on. I implore you and the Government to apply the utmost pressure on Telstra about this issue to show the Governments’ opinion of such arrogant workplace relations behaviour.
I hope to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Yours Sincerely,

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