18 Jan 2021

Purple is an indication of what may happen to all staff in Telstra as Telstra sets up InfraCo and other subsidiaries this year.

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We will in the next few weeks explain more fully the implications of Telstra Purple. It is not a simple story. We will explain the paths to the future. This will cover particularly:

  • Telstra EBA and Modern Award
  • The effect of the Telstra EBA and Modern Award on subsidiaries
  • Transfer of Business rules
  • The effect of a new EBA
  • Clause 45 in the current Telstra EBA.

    Telstra Purple has two identities - it is a Business Unit within Telstra and secondly a subsidiary of Telstra. We are not sure where it stands at present.
    According to the Telstra Purple web page:
    Telstra Purple is the largest Australian owned technology services business, bringing together Telstra Enterprise's business technology services capabilities and a number of its recently acquired companies, focused on outcome-based, transformative tech solutions.

    We have more information on our web page: See Telstra Purple Background. The EBA (yet to be certified) can also be found at that page.

    Purple is a subsidiary of Telstra. It is doing its first EBA.
    Our members in Purple will have concerns seeing a basic EBA with absolute minimum standards. The significant ones include:

  • A 38 hour week
  • After 10 years redundancy is 12 weeks max (plus notice)
  • State (not Commonwealth) Long Service Leave (Vic is 2 months after 10 years)
  • No RDOs
  • Limited Allowances

    Email from Optus National HR Manager - 3 Sep 2020:

      We will automatically load the Monday 25 January 2021 annual leave day into HRCentral for all employees except customer-facing and rostered employees in Digital, Retail and Channel Sales and OB, as well as employees in My Compass.

    Optus has applied and approved you to be on leave for 25 Jan 2021. You are not required to take leave. If you do not want to take the day off, cancel the application by Optus.

    We wrote to Optus last week advising that we are taking the matter to the FWC. Optus response is below. Our email stated:

      This matter has been going on for some time without any movement.
      We are now advising that we wish to refer the matter for conciliation and arbitration. We intend to refer it to the FWC.
      We note that this can move forward if there is agreement to refer it to the FWC or disagreement about appointment of a private arbitrator. It is not our intention to use a private arbitrator.
      Would you kindly advise your position within 48 hours?


      In relation to your email, I am of the view that it would be premature to refer this matter externally under Optus' Issue Prevention and Resolution clause (Dispute Procedure) contained within the Optus Employment Partnership Agreement (Agreement).
      There are a number of steps to be taken before a matter can be referred to a private mediator or arbitrator or the Fair Work Commission under the Agreement.
      To date, my understanding is that none of the steps outlined in the Dispute Procedure have occurred.
      On a number of occasions now I have reiterated to you that any specific employee issues should be raised with an employee's leader so that the issues can be discussed and resolved.
      There are no specific employees that I understand you are representing in relation to the matters you have raised with me to date and their specific concerns regarding annual leave.
      Additionally, on 17 December 2020 I had requested that you clarify on what basis you say that the pre-filling of leave cannot occur. You responded on 23 December 2020 but failed to address my question. If we are to resolve any concerns cooperatively, I would ask that you explain your position so that I can understand your point of view.
      As I have previously advised, Optus is encouraging our employees to have an annual leave plan that reflects the need to take time out for their health and wellbeing which also helps maintain the health of our organisation having regard to unprecedent challenges 2020 brought and that continues this year. As an organisation, we have played an important role in our community as an essential service during the pandemic.
      As a responsible employer, we are (and have been) encouraging our team members to take their available leave and disconnect from work to invest and focus on themselves and their relationships with friends and family. Their health is important to us.
      I'd ask that you address the issues I have raised here in full so I can fully understand your position. Should you wish to refer to the matter to the Fair Work Commission, we will raise our objections on the basis that you have not complied with the Dispute Procedure which is clearly set out in the Agreement.

    The following is an extract from a bulletin of our colleagues at Vic T&S Branch (Sue Riley, John Ellery)

    Telstra Purple EBA - foreshadowing the downgrading of our terms and conditions in all the Telstra areas.
    In the last week, our Union's Divisional Executive, despite strident opposition from 3 of the 7 Communications Div Branches (our Victorian T&S Branch, the Victorian P&T, and the NSW T&S branches) supported an application to Fair Work Commission, as part of the Telstra Purple EBA certification process, to be bound by the Telstra Purple EBA. This EBA had been negotiated by the Asst Div Secretary (Telco), and the Div Office legal officer. At no stage had officials of those 3 Branches been aware of any negotiations with Telstra Purple management. Even at this late stage, the explanations of the circumstances of this negotiation are scant.
    Telstra Purple is, according to a number of industry publications, made up of the Telstra Enterprise Business Unit (ie a business unit of Telstra in the same way as the other Telstra business units are arranged), combined with a number of Telstra acquisitions, including Readify, Kloud, O2 Networks, MSC mobility, VM Tech, Bridgepoint, iVision, NSC and the British based Company 85. When it was actually set up as a Pty Ltd is unknown (ie the union was never consulted about it) but according to the ASIC web site, Telstra Purple was incorporated in June, 2001 and was announced as an operating entity in early September, 2019. The company operates in the IT Managed services, solutions and products area.
    The Telstra EBA applied for staff working in the Enterprise Business Unit, and the other non EBA acquisitions provided a "trojan horse" of grey areas of industrial law, under the Telstra Group.
    This strategy was clearly on the minds of the Telstra EBA negotiators, who pursued an agenda of being able to more easily set up the transfer of Telstra staff to subsidiaries or other Pty Ltds. What we now have happening is what we were foreseeing at the time was dangerous for terms and conditions of Telstra employees, particularly focussed on the infamous and hotly debated cl 45 arrangements relating to the ability to forcibly redeploy redundant Telstra staff to "move to another entity in the Telstra group, or as part of a transfer of business" (cl 45.1)
    So what's in the Telstra Purple Pty Ltd EBA?
    Nothing much more than the National Employment Standards (NES)!! Here are some (but not all) of the glaring reductions in terms and conditions:
    Underpinned by some obscure awards (Clerks, Professional Employees and Commercial sales), not the Telco industry Award, or the Telstra Modern Award. This is crucial for the application of the BOOT (Better Off Overall Test), which compares the EBA to the minimums provided by the awards or the NES

  • 38 Hr week (NES minimum, not 36.75 as per Telstra)
  • Minimum rates of pay, actual pay determined by the boss
  • 2% a year "pay pool" increase, so no guaranteed individual pay rise aside from a 1% "sign on" increase in January 2021.
  • 3 Levels only, and very basic summarised job descriptors for work at that level
  • 16 weeks redundancy (not the 40 week s as per the Telstra Award, or the 80 weeks of the Telstra EBA) dropping back to 12 weeks after 10 years (no prizes for guessing where this precedent will be used). These are the NES numbers.
  • Medical certificate for sick leave (if asked) to be provided, no mention of Stat Dec
  • NES Annual Leave (4 weeks)
  • RDO's are not defined, simply "Flexibility agreements"
  • TOIL (Time Off In Lieu) at the "hour for hour" basis, for Public Holidays
  • No "On Call" or "emergency duty" allowances
  • "Professional Hours" - whatever that means
  • State based Long Service Leave amounts (in Vic 2 months after 10 years.)
  • 4 weeks' notice to take excess annual leave in excess of 8 weeks
  • No Higher Duties allowance payable if the current paid wage is higher than the minimum of the higher level wage.
    So where does it leave the Telstra staff who are slated for movement to a Telstra Pty Ltd (eg InfraCo, TowerCo, etc)?
    In concise terms, vulnerable. Telstra continues to dismember itself, and reduce staff numbers in the main entity, and part of this is the "no alternative" movement of staff to these Pty Ltds, under the threat of losing your
    So where does it leave the Telstra staff who are slated for movement to a Telstra Pty Ltd (eg InfraCo, TowerCo, etc)?
    In concise terms, vulnerable. Telstra continues to dismember itself, and reduce staff numbers in the main entity, and part of this is the "no alternative" movement of staff to these Pty Ltds, under the threat of losing your redundancy payment if you decide not to go across.
    This Telstra Purple EBA clearly reinforces the warning that was given when the Telstra EBA was being debated. If we keep on providing minimal resistance to these initiatives, we are heading to a "free for all" in industrial relations that the conservative government (and their mates in various industry groups - BCA, ACCI, etc) are (and have been for decades) pushing. Genuine committed Union officials should oppose all these, to ensure members rights are not diminished, and officials must not jump into bed with these bosses. We should not be part of deals that are reminiscent of the "yellow union" (bosses union) arrangements, which are prevalent in many parts of Asia. That warning should be heeded, and any attempt to roll a second rate agreement into these areas (including by stealth) must be resisted by all staff confronted by these bad deals, including Union officials who endorse these arrangements.
    Strength in numbers is the main way we can push back, but senior union officials need to call out these deals for what they are - totally second rate, and an obvious danger to employee terms and conditions across our Industry. It's time to organise, and stick together.

    POST - SPF
    The shift swap dispute matter is listed for a conference before the FWC already. We will be following up the overtime review now. And we have a local consultative meeting this Wednesday. If you have any issued that should be raised, please contact me asap.

    More than 200 employees and contractors at Google parent Alphabet in the USA and Canada have formed a labour union to promote workplace equity and ethical business practices, the group's elected leaders said.
    The "Alphabet Workers Union" will collect dues of 1% of total compensation from members, according to its website.
    The funds will cover paid organizers, events, legal support and wages for members in the event of a labour strike.
    The group's formation builds on unprecedented protests by Google workers in recent years.
    While the tech industry has seen minimal union activity and worker pushback historically, thousands of people at Alphabet had banded together to publicly criticize Google's handling of sexual harassment complaints, its work with the US military and other issues.
    Unlike many budding unions, the newly formed group does not expect to collective bargain with Alphabet over pay and working conditions any time soon. Instead, it aims to create a more formal structure to organize future protests.
    "Our union will work to ensure that workers know what they're working on, and can do their work at a fair wage, without fear of abuse, retaliation or discrimination," Google engineers Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw wrote in a New York Times opinion piece announcing the union.
    Kara Silverstein, director of people operations at Google, said, "Our employees have protected labour rights that we support. But as we've always done, we'll continue engaging directly with all our employees."
    Google has been under fire from the US labour regulator, which has accused the company of unlawfully questioning several workers who were then terminated for protesting company policies and trying to organize a union. Google has said it was confident it acted legally.
    Alphabet Workers Union members will be part of the Communications Workers of America Local 1400, which also includes employees from Verizon Communications and AT&T.
    (IT News Paresh Dave and Ayanti Bera 5 Jan 2021)


  • Forced ARL Fact Sheet
  • Forced LSL Fact Sheet
  • Telstra EBA Notes
  • Telstra EBA19
  • Telstra EBA19 Undertakings
  • Superannuation Fact Sheet
  • Optus EBA18
  • Post EBA9

  • 0428 942 878 dan.dwyer@cwunion.net Dan Dwyer
    Secretary/Lawyer - industrial matters & advice
  • 0447 365 433 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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