Following the failure of the Federal Government to pass special legislation, the Telstra breakup cannot proceed as planned. The legislation is not opposed. However with only a few parliamentary sitting days before the election, the legislation may have to await a new Government. Telstra said:
Late last year we shared the news that legislation had passed through parliament that was a really critical step in our legal restructure. Unfortunately, one aspect of the legislation process has carried over into 2022. As a result, we've decided to review the timing of when employees will transition to the new employer companies. We had originally planned to issue new contracts on 2 February, 2022, and transition to the new employer company in March. We're now postponing this If you're a people leader: see what this means for the planned recruitment freeze which will now no longer be taking place from 24 January
Telstra has advised that it will extend the introduction of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for employees in our customer-facing teams in Retail and Field Operations. Employees in these teams will now be required to undertake a RAT and produce a result that is negative to COVID-19 before attending work in the following circumstances:
They are a close contact of someone who has tested positive to COVID-19.
Telstra will supply the RAT kits with no cost to employees. Given the very limited supply of these kits they'll be prioritised for critical sites (ie GOC, E000 and some defence operation).
OPTUS EBA STEPS
Optus has advised that it has finished negotiations and will put the EBA to a ballot. We did not reach agreement on salary increases or forced annual leave. Optus advised:
During the week commencing Mon 31 Jan 22 we intend to provide Optus employees with access to the proposed EPA 2022. We will also provide them with documents to explain the terms and their effect. Additionally, employees will be invited to participate in information sessions. The ballot will be conducted by giving Optus employees the opportunity to cast their vote electronically online, by telephone, or by SMS. The ballot will be open at 10:00am on Mon 14 Feb 22 and close at 5pm on Sun 20 Feb 22
ACTU - WORKERS FORCED TO WORK WITH COVID
GREAT NEWS- We've been advised that COVID-positive workers will not be forced to work at Teys abattoir, after the company agreed to union demands. Thanks to the power of workers organising and hundreds of messages sent to Woolworths' Facebook page over the weekend, every worker who has tested positive for COVID will be able to isolate, rest at home and recover.
TRIPLE ZERO COVID PROTECTIONS
We write to Telstra expressing our concerns about the OHS situation in E000. Telstra has responded. We still have concerns and will write again. Our letter is below, together with the response of Telstra (in red).
Staff are understandably concerned following several recent cases in your area. The common concern is the cleaning of the area, and the testing practices.
First, the cleaning improvement needs should be obvious - professional cleaners, systematic deep cleaning of all areas including lunchrooms and adequate cleaning materials. Staff should not be responsible for general cleaning.
Cleaning of the site continues to occur twice daily using products which meet COVID Safe requirements. This is performed by professional cleaners and encompasses all common use areas (Lunchrooms, tea prep area, social areas, foyers, lifts, meeting rooms, door handles etc) and the general workspace.
They should only be responsible for their personal effects. When staff arrive at work, the workplace must already be cleaned and safe to work in.
In addition to the above, the agent desks have always been regularly wiped down with provided PPE product by the employers when they arrive at their desks and regularly during their shifts etc. This has always been an employee preference and based on team feedback we have continued with this practice.
Secondly, it has helped that employees take home a RAT test kit after each shift and to undertake the test before leaving home to attend work.
I'm pleased to hear that you are supportive of the new Health & Safety approach
Thirdly, when a staff member does test positive, a proper briefing is needed to staff so that they can assess their position and interaction. Staff should not in a position where official secrecy prevails, and rumours are the norm. A deep clean must follow.
Our primary objective is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our employees, and this is why we implemented the daily RAT Process. This also provides our employees with peace of mind that everyone working does not have the Covid Virus. In addition it ensures our workforce in not compromised thus enabling the business to operate safely and effectively with servicing the general public in their greatest time of need.
When a known positive case is advised, the Centre Manager -Paul Carter, or his nominated delegate checks the roster to identify any employee who may have been working on the date/time of the potential exposure and advises them individually to ensure they monitor for symptoms. NSW Health also sends alerts to any individuals who were at the site during the known date/time advising them to monitor for symptoms. These two processes combined ensure any potential exposure is bought to the attention of those listed employees & others. Employees who were not onsite during the potential infectious period should have no need for concern. We have also placed "Potential Exposure Notifications" on the Break Sheet desk for all employee information.
All cases are lodged with the Telstra Health & Safety/Covid Team & comply with the NSW Health Covid Risk Assessment processes. Where Deep Clean is recommended the business would be instructed to immediately comply as required.
Fourthly, Telstra should place on the notice board all Government directions in force AND how Telstra is complying with them. eg face masks
The Building complies with all NSW Government mandated COVID requirements and this is well sign posted throughout the building and enforced by management and Security eg the requirement to wear a face mask at all times (excluding call taking activity ). We also put trust in our Triple Zero employees that they are complying with this requirement. All employees are also required to QR Code when they arrive onsite.
The NSW Government COVID Requirements are clearly listed on the Health & Safety Board in the Centre. This process has not changed.
We ask that these matters be adopted.
ACTU SPECIAL MEETING ON COVID
Leaders from national unions have met to discuss the ongoing health and economic crisis caused by the rapid spread of Omicron. Union leaders reported on the devastating impact the latest Covid wave is having on the health and incomes of working people.
All unions express their solidarity, respect, and deep gratitude to the health care workers of our country who are experiencing the full brunt of this wave of sick people.
The unions representing those workers report that they are exhausted and feel abandoned by governments who have encouraged "let it rip" policies.
The "let it rip" governments have failed to prepare our health system and our community, and they are responsible for Australia suffering the highest per capita infection rates in the world.
Australia is now experiencing our worst days since the start of the pandemic and the highest level of sickness ever seen in the workforce. Essential workers are being expected to put themselves in harm's way to keep the country going and in many cases without the protections they need.
The union movement will do everything we can to keep people safe and act to slow the spread of this latest wave of the Covid pandemic.
Unions condemn the failure of the Morrison Government to respond to our requests to work with us during this crisis; or our demands for the provision of free Rapid Antigen Tests, improved masks, fixing close contact definitions and restoring support for businesses and workers.
New measures are now needed to ensure safety at work.
For workplaces were working from home is not an option, the provision of free RATs by employers to all workers will be necessary once supply is resolved, alongside upgraded masks and improved ventilation.
Union members will take whatever steps are necessary in their workplaces to ensure they are as safe as possible.
Where employers do not fulfil their obligations, the union movement determines to do everything within its power to ensure the safety of workers and the community.
This may include ceasing work or banning unsafe practices.
Free RATs are needed for the whole community to limit the spread and keep people safe, not just essential workers.
The failure of the Federal Government to act and to provide free and accessible RATs puts us all in harm's way.
The union movement will work directly with the community to demand all members of the Federal Government be held accountable for the inaction of the Prime Minister.
Authorised by Dan Dwyer NSW Secretary, Sue Riley Vic Secretary
- CWU Telecommunications & Services Branches.