Telstra MoU lawful: Management should abide by umpire’s ruling and resume talks

Telstra Human Resources should abide by a ruling of the federal Department of Workplace Relations and immediately resume talks with unions about a new enterprise agreement.

The department has found that a draft memorandum of understanding for a constructive relationship proposed by the unions would not put Telstra in breach of the national construction code.

ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence says confirmation that the MOU was lawful had removed any excuse for Telstra HR not to resume talks.

“Another one of Telstra’s obstructive tactics has been blown out of the water,” Mr Lawrence says.

“Management should now abide by the decision of the independent umpire and end the stalling tactics. Telstra HR needs to come back to the bargaining table and put the MOU to a vote of Telstra employees.

“If they won’t come back to the table, you have to question what are management’s real motives?

The intention of the MOU is to promote a constructive and co-operative relationship between Telstra and its employees, represented by their unions.

It would also allow Telstra staff currently on Australian Workplace Agreements to opt out of them before their expiry date and resume employment under an enterprise bargaining agreement.

On July 17, Telstra HR unilaterally broke off all negotiations over a new enterprise agreement putting at risk the future pay and job conditions of about 32,000 workers.

The ACTU was always confident of the lawfulness of the MOU, but redrafted the document and sought an independent ruling from the department after Telstra objected to some of its content.

The advice that the MOU is compliant with the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry was conveyed to the ACTU in a letter from the department on Friday.

This means that, contrary to Telstra’s claims, signing the MOU would not prevent Telstra from bidding for the National Broadband Network tender.

“The challenge is now there for Telstra to show it is genuinely committed to good faith bargaining,” Mr Lawrence says.

 “The future pay and conditions of more than 30,000 workers are at stake here. It’s time for Telstra HR to end the charade, drop its hostile approach, and sit down with unions.”

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