CWU T&S WEEKLY BULLETIN NO 2021 /
14 July 2021
Do not forget to vote. Our BCOM unanimously supports a YES vote.
POST SPF OVERTIME VOTE
They must be poor bean counters at Post. So far it is several days since the vote closed and yet they cannot provide a result. I know there are a lot of potential voters - hell it might exceed 30 if team leaders finally got a vote.
POST EBA - CEPU DIVISIONAL OFFICE MAJORITY ACCEPT OFFER
Suddenly, with a push from Tasmania, Post has laid out their innovative offer. Roll over the EBA and 3% pa pay rises. The main features are:
- 3 year agreement - basically a roll over of existing conditions
- 3% in September 2021;
- 3% in September 2022;
- 3% in September 2023.
- No back pay for last year where we had no increase.
The draft EBA will soon be published, supported by most but not all branches of CEPU, It will the go to vote.
POST EBA - TECHNICAL STAFF MISS OUT
We were not represented at the EBA talks as the Divisional Office rejected our proposal to represent Technical staff. Non technical staff were given the role and what a result. The delivery staff have a lot of attention (which they deserved after all these years). Technical staff were not left out. There is a mention in Appendix 4 along with a number of other "fly over" promises. The full extract relating to technical staff is as follows:
Commitments Outside of the EBA
Tech Classifications - Australia Post is willing to conduct a review of the Tech classifications. Australia Post will also provide the CEPU with a list of acceptable qualifications to attain the highest Tech classification.
We are not inpressed!
MEMBER COMMENT RE INFRACO TOWERS
The thing that bugs me the most is that we don't hear any response from the Labor party, unfortunately they are a very very poor opposition at the moment. No clear policies. The way they are going with the subsidiaries Telstra will become a non entity as they will sell these subsidiaries to private enterprise eventually
TELSTRA PURPLE PROBLEMS
Telstra Purple Pty Ltd recently did an EBA which provided the barest minimum of conditions for staff. Now members tell us that Purple is investigating why they are having nearly one third of the staff (31%) resigning. Fortunately, we have high paid bean counters investigating the problem. We should see a result by 2031!
TELSTRA DB SUPER RESOLVED
Telstra announced that all current defined benefit superannuation members will remain eligible following implementation of Telstra's planned new corporate structure later this year.
OPTUS REDUNDANCIES - HFC CLOSURE
Optus has commenced decommissioning the HFC Network across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Customers will be migrated to NBN. A staff review is under way affecting the Field Services team. Optus advise that it will lead to redundancies in the team given the substantial reduction in work that flow from these changes. Optus will update us in the next few days. If you are concerned please contact un on the numbers below.
POST EBA: THE MOUSE THAT ROARED
We are most impressed with the actions of members in our smallest state, Tasmania, to take on Aus Post. This is an extract from their Web site. (Note that the Postal members in Tasmania are in the ETU Division of our union, not the Communications Division)
CEPU Tasmania, 1 July: Australia Post Workers In Tasmania Begin Process To Take Industrial Action As Post Ignores Workers Claims
The CEPU today warned Tasmanians that there could be upcoming disruptions to the Post service as workers begin the process to take industrial action over their working conditions. CEPU Communication section organiser Paul Sutton expressed frustration that workers have been left with no choice to have their labour valued properly after receiving a cut in pay during Covid.
"Post hasn't been able to keep a lid of all the waste and excess at their corporate level, and workers are incensed that although they were the ones who kept the critical public service of post continuing through Covid, they have had their modest claims ignored."
"Workers have instructed the Union to commence a ballot for industrial action, which as an absolute last resort will show Post management who is critical in delivering Tassie's and Australia's mail." The Union says that Enterprise Agreement negotiations had been in play for over 12 months, including an MOU during Covid, which the Union says was a betrayal of workers and communities.
"Not only did Post spite workers with a real pay cut during Covid, but they also insidiously stripped the community of delivery standards under the guise of pandemic safety, when the reality on the ground was Post made a shameful effort to keep workers safe."
"The delivery model change was a smoke screen to test public appetite to degradation of Postal services and distract from the actual problem which was the Postal service was too understaffed to cope with huge increase in small parcels."
Mr Sutton said that Post's conduct in bargaining had given workers no choice but to ready themselves for action in support of a modest real wage increase and fairer access to holidays and rostering.
"Instead of taking workers claims seriously, Post have made attempts to bar workers from participating in bargaining and using their fundamental rights to protected action so they can impose yet another flawed, destructive delivery model on communities."
The Fair Work process of a protected industrial action ballot takes approximately 30 days.
SGM TANDEM BANKRUPTED
The following is extracted from the Australian Financial Review.
Exclusive - IFM-backed contractor folds over sham contracting claims -
David Marin-Guzman Workplace correspondent Jul 7, 2021
An industry fund-backed contractor for Telstra and Foxtel has folded in the face of a $400 million sham contracting claim, leaving hundreds of contractors without work and dozens of employees owed millions of dollars.
Directors representing IFM Investors, the $150-billion investment arm of 27 industry superannuation funds, are understood to have put Tandem Group into administration last week as a class action throttled the field service contractor's attempts to win work or re-finance.
Tandem's collapse effectively stays the court case, which was set for trial in October, and the company will likely avoid paying out alleged entitlements to up to 4000 eligible contractors if the case had been successful.
However, part of Tandem will survive through a related entity not subject to the class action called Tandem Networks, which was set up a year after the court case was lodged and recently signed a new $30 million contract with Telstra starting on July 1.
Shine Lawyers practice leader Vicky Antzoulatos, who ran the class action, said her group members were shocked and angry about the decision to put Tandem in administration.
"They thought they were going to hold this company to account over its system of work that has caused a lot of them extreme hardship and they also may well have missed out on employment entitlements they might have otherwise got," she said.
"This is an affront to workers around the country quite frankly."
IFM, chaired by ex-ACTU secretary Greg Combet, declined to comment on the decision. The IFM directors were the only two left on the board of Tandem Corp after the remaining directors quit about three weeks ago.
About 1,000 contractors are understood to be affected by the collapse and 86 sacked staff are owed an estimated $3 million in wages, redundancy and leave entitlements. Hundreds more employees are facing an uncertain fate.
At a town hall meeting last week, sources said the company told workers they could claim their entitlements through the federal government's Fair Entitlements Guarantee.
A spokesman for Tandem said that the companies can gone into voluntary administration "despite the best efforts of Tandem Corp's management and board".
"The boards and management of Tandem companies not in administration are working with the administrators to seek to achieve the best outcome for creditors (including employees) and stakeholders, including a potential sale of those companies owned by Tandem Corp," he said.
"There will likely be no return to Tandem Corp shareholders as part of the administration process."
IFM denied `stranded asset'
Tandem, formerly known as Infrastructure Services Group Management, operates a platform that connects field service contractors with jobs faster.
At its peak, the company was turning over more than $500 million a year and engaging up to 7000 contractors on an average pay of $130,000.
But some contractors - many ex-Telstra staff or long-term unemployed - claimed the high amounts they had to borrow for vehicles and equipment meant they were overwhelmed by work conditions, debt and low pay.
Shine argued the level of control the company exercised over the contractors meant they were really employees entitled to millions of dollars in annual leave and redundancy pay.
Tandem denied the claims and even brought in advisory firm KordaMentha and an ex-Federal Court judge who calculated the workers had been paid $642 million over what they would have earned under the award minimum.
A key matter to be decided in court was how much of this could offset conditions such as superannuation or annual leave, which must be paid separately.
A Fair Work Ombudsman spokesman said it investigated Tandem several years ago but "as there was no formal enforcement outcome from this investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further".
The class action, supported by the telco workers' Victorian union, was a huge embarrassment for IFM, which purchased its 50 per cent stake in Tandem in 2016.
IFM representatives were involved in mediation and Mr Combet is understood to have pushed for the case to be dropped due to the potential brand damage.
Sources said the stigma attached to the class action meant the banks would not refinance loans, the company's work was dramatically reduced and IFM refused to put in more money.
The class action also killed off a potential IPO and no dividends were distributed to investors as millions of dollars were instead diverted to defending the legal action.
Despite this, then-IFM chief executive Brett Himbury told a parliamentary inquiry in late 2019 that he did not regard the Tandem as a "stranded asset" and that it was "potentially a long-term positive contributor to investor returns".
Ms Antzoulatos said the group was still determining what recovery actions they would take.
The law firm has a similar action against listed telco contractor BSA but it is still in the early stages.
Authorised by Dan Dwyer Branch Secretary
CWU Telecommunications & Services Branch, Sydney City, NSW.