22 MAR 2020

We will be here for members via our usual phone numbers and through any shut down.

Enough is being said in the media. And the advice is available on Government websites. For our members who deal with the public or work in large workplaces, the challenges are great. Employers must and are issuing instructions to keep you as safe as possible.

Keeping your job is our most critical challenge.

Employers can stand down workers without pay if certain conditions exist. Fortunately you work in areas critical to society and to our economy and the risk is less compared to other industries. Temporary measures will be taken, and some may cause stress. Individual circumstances will vary. Many new circumstances will arise.

We are here to assist and advise should changes be proposed

Here are some observations for your information.

  • Workers have rights to refuse to carry out work if the worker has reasonable concern the work would expose them to a serious risk from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard.
  • HSRs may direct a stoppage of work if the same circumstances exist.
  • Employers will need to ensure that no one is discriminated on the basis of sickness (including COVID 19).
  • If you contact COVID 19 at work, the usual workers compensation benefits should apply.
  • If you contact COVID 19 outside work, sick leave will apply.
  • If you are directed to go home (ill or not) you should be paid.
  • If you self-isolate (because you MAY be a risk) then the position is unclear.
    If you require further information, please contact us

    Like Telstra, Optus, NBN and other employers have taken a number of decisions. We will not reproduce each of them. Some are welcome and others will depend on your individual circumstance. For example, working at home is being introduced. It appears that employers anticipate that offshore "partners" and call centres will be shut down as the Virus spreads. This may mean more jobs onshore temporarily.

    Telstra issued a statement this week outlining a number of changes. As they are interesting (and some welcome) we reproduce some extracts:

      In these extraordinary circumstances it is in the national interest for every company, organisation and individual to play a part in ensuring Australia comes through this challenging period as strongly as possible.
      We are looking at every aspect of our business to see what we can do for our employees, customers, suppliers and the economy more broadly, while we maintain a focus on long term value creation.
      Additional measures we are announcing today are:
    • Putting on hold any further job reductions. While we will continue to focus on our productivity program to reduce underlying fixed costs by $2.5 billion annually by the end of FY22, we will not announce any further job reductions over the next six months.
    • Recruitment of an additional 1,000 temporary contractors in Australia to help manage call centre volumes.
    • Bringing forward $500 million of capex from the second half of FY21 into calendar year 2020. This capital will be deployed to increase capacity in our network, including further accelerating the roll out of 5G and injecting much needed investment into the economy at this time.
      These measures are in addition to others we have already announced, including the provision of unlimited data allowances on fixed broadband and extra data for Telstra's mobile consumer and small business customers and our Covid-19 leave policy providing extra paid leave for Telstra employees and casuals.
      Telstra will also pay its interim dividend distributing $951 million next week to shareholders.
      At Telstra we already have more than 25,000 people successfully working from home.
      Managing Our Leave Balances - Easter shutdown
      One of the challenges we are managing is our increasing annual leave liability as many people cancel holidays they had planned. The health and wellbeing of our people remains our highest priority, and that is why today we have taken steps to provide our people with job certainty for the next six months.
      We do however need to take reasonable steps to manage our costs and that is why we are planning to shut down all non-critical activity from 9 - 17 April. This means all Australian-based office teams who are currently working from home will be required to take paid leave during this time, though only those with sufficient leave accrued will be required to do so.
      As an added incentive, if you take two weeks annual leave or long service leave that includes or bookends the Easter public holidays, you will get an extra day of discretionary paid leave. This day will need be taken on the working day immediately following your last day of leave and not banked for another time.
      In the coming months we will also be identifying those with excessive annual leave and asking them to reduce their balances as another way of helping us to manage our costs. I understand not everyone will welcome this decision but it is a necessary step during an unprecedented time.

    Post has unilaterally introduced a new system for allocation of overtime. Removal of the long standing scheme was not notified to our Union. The new scheme is strongly opposed as it is not transparent and punishes staff who refuse overtime. You cannot refuse if on sick leave or annual leave without consequences. A survey by our job delegate revealed no support.

    At a meeting on Wednesday we demanded first, that Post return to the long standing system immediately. and secondly, that they should consult to determine if a fair and transparent system can be introduced. Post refused. They issued a complex new system. We are now asking Fair Work to relist the matter. The Post letter stated:

      I refer to our meeting on 18 March 2020 regarding the overtime offer arrangements for Technicians at SPF following the introduction of the new Technical Team rosters. As advised at this meeting, with the introduction of the new rosters for the technical staff we aligned the process for offers of overtime to our processing teams to ensure we have a consistent and transparent process in a Teams environment across the whole Facility. We intend to maintain the process that was outlined in the meeting yesterday and attached are more detailed guidelines on this process which reflects employee feedback as well as feedback from the meeting yesterday. I also propose to set up a Local Working Group to further refine these guidelines and to address or clarify any issues that employees may have with this process.

    Please note the following changes as we simplify our phone numbers
    0428 942 878 dan.dwyer@cwunion.net Dan Dwyer Secretary/Lawyer - for industrial matters & advice
    0447 365 443 reception@cwunion.net Administrative eg payments, applications, change of details

    Authorised by Dan Dwyer Branch Secretary
    CWU Telecommunications & Services Branch, Sydney City, NSW.

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