CWU T&S WEEKLY BULLETIN NO 2020 / 32
16 Aug 2020
Telstra is also looking at career paths and reported a number of upgradings, including into the new CFW6 job. Telstra also reported on the effort to clean premises and particularly toilets.
POST AUTHORISED HOLIDAY - FWC DISPUTE
ANOTHER ATTACK ON PENALTY RATES
WORKERS COMPENSATION SCANDAL
And Dominic Perrottet was caught out having icare pay for two of his political staff.
Premiums from 326,000 businesses to insure 3 million workers were instead used to fund the Treasurer's political operation. To make matters worse, the man appointed to investigate it all was icare's Deputy Chair when the staffing arrangement was made. Jodi McKay MP NSW Labor Leader Sign the Petition
BSA CLASS ACTION
The claim, lodged in the Federal Court last week is against BSA Ltd, a publicly-listed company which turned over $495 million in the 2018-19 financial year. It is the second major firm in the telecommunications sector to face such allegations. Similar action was taken against Tandem in 2018.
Vicky Antzoulatos from Shine Lawyers, which is representing the workers, said thousands of telecommunications technicians engaged by BSA as contractors should have been classified as employees. "BSA set up this system of work . to reduce costs and increase profit, but it's being done at the expense of workers," she said. According to Ms Antzoulatos, BSA's system of work enabled it to avoid paying annual leave, sick leave, superannuation and other basic entitlements.
She said workers bore the full cost of purchasing vehicles, tools, equipment and insurance, and then had to accept substandard rates of pay for the jobs on offer. "Workers were not able to basically make enough money to make ends meet and that has had devastating consequences [such as] marriage breakdowns, going into debt, bankruptcy and suicide attempts," she said.
BSA has denied the allegations and said it "has a long track record of good working relationships with . our independent contractors". "We believe our contracting arrangements are compliant with legal obligations and are in line with those used industry wide by all reputable major players," the company said. "We will vigorously defend any action on this matter."
Sunshine Coast man Stuart Pope worked for BSA between 2012 and 2016, primarily installing and fixing Foxtel boxes. In theory, as an independent contractor, he should have been able to choose the days and hours he worked, and the clients he accepted.
He said that was not the case. "Not one bit - we had to give a three-month forecast of our availability . it was pretty much their way or the highway," he said.
Val Butler from the Victorian branch of the Communication Workers Union said BSA exercised significant control over its workforce. "They're contracted from 7:00 in the morning until 7:00 at night, they have to make themselves available on weekends," she said.
Mr Pope said he was paid a flat rate for items of work completed, regardless of how long the particular job took. "With a service call, you could be there for five minutes, you could be there for two hours. Out of those service calls all we got paid was $55," he said. He said those rates often did not cover the costs of transport, tools and equipment. "You walked away with virtually nothing," he said. Mr Pope said the conditions inflicted a toll on his mental health, which deteriorated further after his father died unexpectedly in 2015. "I probably only had three days off. It was a pretty horrific time for me because what they [BSA] said to me was that there was no-one up there to cover the jobs 'so you've got to go do it'."
Industry at 'pointy end of precarious employment', union says
Mr Pope worked in an industry in which companies have increasingly moved away from an employment-based model of work to one that relies on third-party contractors. Telstra, for example, has shed more than 19,000 workers since 2006 and plans to cut a further 8,000 jobs by 2022. Ms Butler said it was not the sort of job market in which telecommunications technicians could easily shop around. "It really is at the pointy end of precarious employment . in an industry where that's all we seem to see these days," she said.
Ms Antzoulatos said the cases against BSA and Tandem could have wider ramifications. "I think there is a lot riding on this case," she said. "I think BSA and companies like BSA will need to review their work practices and basically do away with their sham contracting arrangements or they will continue to face claims like this one."
In 2018, the Supreme Court of Victoria was asked to consider a workers compensation dispute involving a BSA contractor.
It ruled that the worker "was not carrying on an independent trade or business" and was entitled to be covered by BSA's insurance policy, like a regular employee. That was an encouraging verdict for those pursuing the claim against BSA, but there are no guarantees the Federal Court will view it in the same way.
Whatever the outcome, Mr Pope is much happier now in his new trade as an electrician. "Not much stress or worry anymore," he said. "I get paid for every minute of my job."
SICK LEAVE - WHEN IS A DAY IS NOT A DAY?
The ACTU says that the Federal Government must intervene to protect workers' sick leave in a pandemic. The Federal Government has backed big business Mondelez each step of the way on this court case. Instead of backing in big multinationals, the Federal Government should be legislating to make sure every worker has ten days sick leave protected, and ensuring all workers have access to federally funded, fully paid pandemic leave. ACTU
Authorised by Dan Dwyer Branch Secretary