CWU T&S WEEKLY BULLETIN NO 2021 /
26 September 2021
TELSTRA CONFIRMS COVID POLICY
Telstra advised it would implement Telstra's Covid 19 Vaccination Policy. Those in NSW will need to get their first vaccine dose by 15 October and then be fully vaccinated by 15 November (with flexibility provided where appropriate).Under the final policy Telstra has decided these same requirements will apply for Victorian employees given the increasing number of cases and associated health risks. (See Telstra Policy Below)
TELSTRA POLICY - READ IT CAREFULLY
Start with this understanding - Telstra cannot force you to have the jab.
We will not see CEO Pandy Penn with two HR partners holding you down and giving you a jab.
The dispute is about this: Telstra may not employ you if you do not have the jab.
Complex legal issues arise. This is where our Branch will stand by and advise individual members.
Contact us if you receive a direction so that we can evaluate the issue.
Note these two extracts from Telstra Policy:
- If you do not comply with this direction, then it will be managed under Telstra's Code of Conduct.
- (Telstra) cannot `force' an employee to be vaccinated. However, an ongoing refusal to comply may lead to termination of employment.
TELSTRA SE CONSTRUCTION - SHIFT DISPUTE
Following the latest redundancy round, we still have a dispute with Telstra over 12 hour shifts. A meeting of members this week rejected Telstra's final proposals. We have written to Telstra raising a dispute under the EBA. Our Email stated:
We advise that members have rejected the proposed shift times and structures.
Pursuant to Clause 25 of the EBA, we advise that a dispute exists between Telstra and the Union relating to the shift proposals as set out in the advice contained in your email.
The dispute was originated by Telstra at the highest level and there have been a number of discussions. We now have your final decision - to be implemented in 3 months time.
We ask that you waive steps 1 and 2 in the dispute process, as starting a new dispute at the base level will:
has no utility as the final decision has been made at a national level
will create unnecessary confrontation between management and staff in the workplace
be seen by staff as petty
is not conducive to dispute settlement
We look forward to your early response
FORCED ANNUAL LEAVE
This issue is still being pressed by Telstra. Local management it seems, are encouraged to push the envelope.Tell us immediately when this happens. This week we took up one matter. Our email stated (in part):
We write to complain about the coercion of staff to take annual leave and seek that action be taken to redress the situation. This is linked to the recent Telstra missive about ARL in Oct and Nov 2021. We do not accept that Telstra has the right to demand that staff take leave.
We refer specifically to the National Technical Support and Field Technical Support at Reagents Park in Sydney. The manager is Mr Nelson Leclair.
The work area is breaching its duties and the law by
(a) using "naming and shaming" techniques to coerce staff to take ARL
(b) by mandating that leave must be taken on 1 Oct 2021
We understood that Telstra merely requested staff to take ARL on 1 Oct - it was completely optional.
Yet there is an email in area that contradicts your national position. Staff have been told in relation to 1 Oct 2021:
"3 staff have RDOs that will need to be moved to accommodate the AL/TD day off."
The writer also named the 3 staff in the email.
The direction is advising that the routine RDOs must be moved to another day so that the can then take the mandated annual leave day.
This is a repeat of the approach used just over 12 months ago. We complained then.
We insist on the following:
1. That an unambiguous statement be sent to all staff in the area immediately, stating that it is not mandatory for staff to take annual leave on 1 October
2. That an email be sent immediately to all staff in the area advising that they may cancel any application for leave for 1 October 2021.
3. That all managers in the work area above be advised that a number of breaches of the Fair Work Act and Privacy Act can arise from "naming and shaming" employees to comply with a direction (lawful or unlawful).
We will write to you separately re 1 November.
TELSTRA COVID-19 POLICY - 20 SEP 21
This is a Company policy of Telstra Corporation Limited and all wholly owned Subsidiaries of Telstra in Australia.
At Telstra, our priority is to ensure we provide our people with a safe, secure, and healthy workplace, and to minimise any health and safety impact to our customers and the wider community in which we operate.
COVID-19 continues to pose a significant threat to us all. The Delta variant is highly transmissible and appears to have poorer health outcomes for younger people than the original variant.
We have a responsibility to continue to take all reasonable steps to help mitigate the health and safety risks posed by this pandemic. Broadly speaking, our primary duty is to not put people at risk and ensure (as far as practicable) the health and safety of Telstra employees and members of the public in carrying out our business.
Telstra already has in place a range of preventative measures for our people and customers designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, vaccines are the main form of protection from serious COVID-19 illness.
Telstra encourages all employees to be vaccinated when an approved COVID-19 vaccination is available under Government roll-out plans in the locations where our people work. Telstra will support employees to be vaccinated in line with local health guidelines, laws, and safety advice. This includes paid time off to attend booked vaccination appointments and (where necessary) paid sick/carer's and pandemic leave.
Availing yourself of an approved COVID-19 vaccination is an important way to help reduce the risk to yourself, colleagues, customers, and members of the wider community (in particular, people who have greater vulnerability in the case of infection).
Requiring Employees to be Vaccinated
Telstra has continued to assess the risks associated with COVID-19 to our employees across our enterprise. We have decided that there are some roles where there is a heightened risk of infection due to the nature of the work performed and regular contact with others. In these circumstances, Telstra will require employees to be vaccinated by the following specified dates
State/Territory First specified date Second specified date
NSW & VIC 15 October 2021 15 November 2021
All other Australian
states and territories 29 October 2021 29 November 2021
Broadly, this includes roles where:
You frequently interact with customers and other members of the public;
You are required to work in high-risk locations with vulnerable persons or in locations that might lead to COVID-19 outbreaks if infected people come into contact with members of the public (e.g. medical facilities, aged care centres, schools, shopping centres, indigenous communities);
You are required to attend work (i.e., you cannot work from home) and work in close proximity with other employees or customers;
Government/health regulations stipulate that you must be vaccinated to enter a location or premises.
We will continue to review risks and put the safety of our people first. Where there is a requirement to be vaccinated, the direction will be subject to the availability of a vaccine that has been approved by the relevant health authorities/regulators. Telstra will also ensure, as far as practicable, that you are able to receive your vaccination during paid work time.
At this stage, we are not requiring people who work-from-home in Australia to be vaccinated. This follows a risk analysis that takes into account likelihood of harm and the effectiveness of other controls to protect the health and safety of the staff in these roles.
We understand that a small number of employees may not be able to take the COVID-19 vaccine for valid medical reasons. If you fall into this category and are directed to be vaccinated, please contact your one-up manager to discuss applying for an exemption and be prepared to provide appropriate supporting medical evidence from a qualified medical practitioner as to why the exemption is required. To appropriately assess any medical exemption and provide you with any support required, Telstra may arrange for a medical practitioner to contact your treating practitioner and/or seek an independent medical assessment to be undertaken to provide additional information or clarification on the evidence provided in the exemption.
In Australia, in the absence of an exemption on medical grounds, where Telstra has formed the view that there is a safety requirement to be vaccinated, you must comply with a direction to be vaccinated. If you do not comply with this direction, then it will be managed under Telstra's Code of Conduct.
Whilst we expect our people will comply with what is a reasonable health and safety requirement, we cannot `force' an employee to be vaccinated. However, an ongoing refusal to comply may lead to termination of employment.
Telstra acknowledges that we are responding to an evolving situation which may mean we need to revise this policy, including the categories of employees who require vaccination based on the current circumstances (e.g. risk of infection and availability of alternative mitigation steps that are effective and appropriate in the circumstances).
We will continue to consider our approach across the various countries we operate in to take into account the latest health advice, the nature of work that we perform in different locations and the local expectations on employers.
Authorised by Dan Dwyer Branch Secretary
CWU Telecommunications & Services Branch, Sydney City, NSW.