TECHNICAL AND SERVICES BRANCH WEEKLY BULLETIN 2023
16 October 2023
We are now back in force as our absences on leave meant that we would pause bulletins. This week we will catch up with some developments. We aim to keep our weekly bulletins interesting with some stories from the wider industrial environment. We hope you agree.
TELSTRA EBA MATTER
Comment received for matters to be raised in next Telstra EBA:
My 2 cents on my major concern that is ongoing in Telstra, being their claims of "Christmas shutdowns", or "easter shutdowns. Younger and less inclined people are accepting Telstra position, which at least in my area, is total and absolute rubbish. As someone needs to work. Therefor it is not a shutdown. You have nailed my major concerns. I would like to expand on one.
The "shutdowns" remain a farce. I am in an area that must have people work. Telstra need to recognise that it is a farce. If even 1 person is needed, it is not a shutdown. I will not take leave that doesn't suit me unless my managers puts it in the system, thereby allowing me to engage the union around what an absolute farce it is. Which of course, he won't. He knows it is a farce. And yet, Telstra continues to "strongly encourage" shutdowns.?
CHANGES TO THE INFRACO FIXED AND TELSTRA WHOLESALE
Telstra has commenced the consultation process with your Union regarding a proposal to introduce major changes to the InfraCo Fixed and Telstra Wholesale businesses. A potential impact of these proposals is the transfer of employment of a number of permanent Telstra staff to other Telstra subsidiaries.
Members impacted by the above are covered by Clause 50 of the EA.
Members impacted by this change who receive a subsequent transfer of employment offer, should ensure that any such offer meets the following requirements provided for by Clause 50:
1. the new employment offer must be in a position performing the same or substantially
the same work as you currently perform;
2. on terms and conditions considered on an overall basis, no less favourable than the
conditions you received at your current Telstra Group employer;
3. you will receive at least 15 days paid personal leave each year (pro-rata for part time employees);
4. your ordinary hours of work will be no more than an average of 36_ hours each week;
5. you will receive continuity of service;
6. you will remain eligible for membership of the defined benefit superannuation fund,
if you are an existing fund member; and
7. future possible retrenchment benefits will be calculated:
1. in accordance with the scale in section 10 if your job with the Subsidiary is made redundant and you are retrenched; and
2. by reference to your Fixed Remuneration at Telstra at the time the offer is made, or the fixed remuneration at the time you are retrenched by the Subsidiary, whichever is higher.
The above are important protections and ensure that transfer of employment to a Telstra subsidiary is reasonable and that members' job security, pay and entitlements are not impacted by such a transfer.
Should an offer not meet the above requirements, a member would be in a position to ultimately reject the transfer.
Members who require any further information or clarification on any of the above should contact the T&S Branch office, or officials on their mobiles/email for immediate assistance.
HISTORIC WIN AT QANTAS
In 2020, Qantas sacked 1,700 ground crew at the height of the pandemic. In a historic victory for unionists and workers, the Federal Court's ruling was upheld: Qantas are responsible for the largest case of illegal sackings in Australia's history, and it's time for them to take responsibility.
It's a massive win for the union members who led the charge through a lengthy legal battle
ruling is a case of justice being served but, as TWU Secretary, Michael Kaine said, "These workers should not have had to go all the way to the High Court to get justice. The bill Federal Parliament has before them must be urgently passed so this can't happen in the first place."
The bill Kaine is referring to is the Closing the Loopholes Bill, which contains new work laws to increase job security, help stop wage theft and make workplaces safer.
It will close the loopholes that big business have been using for years to take wages away from workers - loopholes that Qantas has become the poster child for exploiting, to actively suppress the wages and conditions of workers.
Industrial reform is essential to better protect workers.
TECH ALLOWANCE CHANGES
Telstra has advised of changes. If you have any issues please contact us.
Last week we announced a proposal within Telstra Purple Pty Ltd to retire the historical `Tech Allowance' currently received by 48 employees.
Background: A Tech Allowance of $2500 per annum is a payment made to some employees to access a tool of trade of their choosing, with the device owned by the employee. The Tech Allowance is paid annually as a component of the employee Fixed Remuneration. Deployment of Cloudstrike in Sept - Oct 2023, a security program mandatory to protect Telstra assets and data, requires the tool of trade to be company owned.
We are proposing the following changes:
End the Tech Allowance arrangement to enable all devices to be company owned.
Give affected employees the following options to access a company owned tool of trade:
Access via PC Lease and receive a standard device. Tech Allowance will be rolled into their base pay. No reduction in Fixed Remuneration;
Access via Toolkit Allowance and receive a non-standard device/s of their choosing from an extended range, to the value of $4200 every 2 years. Ownership of this device can be transferred to the employee at the conclusion of the 2 year duration. Tech Allowance will cease. Fixed remuneration will be reduced (by $2500) consistent with the contractual clause which allows for this.
The change is proposed to take effect from mid-October 2023. This proposed change will ensure Telstra Purple can maintain the security of devices to protect our networks, operations, and customer and employee data.
Optus has advised as follows. Members scan contact us if any assistance is needed.
This month, other functions within the Customer Success division namely, Non Branded, Digital Channels & Customer Success Strategy Connected Experiences, Customer Experiences, and Operations & Enablement, will undergo change as we continue to look across the division to identify how best to drive outcomes for our customers and teams.
Overall, there are 68 positions affected, with 38 in New South Wales, 22 in Victoria, 5 in South Australia and 3 in Queensland.
INDUSTRIAL ACTION - USA WIN
It took 148 days to change the world of work.
That's how long Hollywood writers were on strike before reaching a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that, if adopted, will not only transform Hollywood, but will ripple across workplaces everywhere.
While many aspects of the agreement are unique to TV and film production, the core concerns raised by the Writers Guild of America, East and West, (WGA)-the use of technology, the erosion of job security, and fair compensation-resonate with workers in nearly every industry.
Particularly writers' demand for guardrails regarding generative artificial intelligence (GAI).
Since ChatGPT emerged late last year, speculation has run wild about GAI's impact on work. Some have held it up as a solution to the drudgery of our jobs; others have tagged it as a great displacer of work, particularly white-collar work.
Anyone with the word "writer" in their job title had good reason to be nervous. And the guilds were proactive in fighting for the fair use of this emerging tool at the bargaining table.
More than just ensuring that machines will not write any sequel to Barbieor the next season of The Morning Show, the WGA groundbreaking agreement puts regulations on how studios and writers can use GAI to innovate-without eroding pay or cutting jobs.
This contract is groundbreaking because it contains hard-fought language to protect the integrity of the writers' profession during this period of experimentation with GAI. It ensures that even if the studio deploys GAI to produce material, such as a draft screenplay, the writer receives full credit and compensation. And writers may also be permitted to use GAI in their work without any change in compensation. The two sides will meet twice a year to consult about these developments.
It is a huge union win on generative AI, and it will not be the last. Other workers urgently need the kinds of safeguards negotiated by the WGA.
OpenAI claims that 80%of all workers in the United States will have a small percentage of their tasks affected by ChatGPT, or a similar tool. McKinsey's estimates that 75% of the investment in GAI will involve software development, sales, marketing and customer service industries, and these areas do seem to be the early adopters.
For example, call-center workers are already feeling the impact of artificial intelligence. The first real world study of GAI on a large scale, released earlier this year, analyzed the performance of 5,500 call-center employees and found that when GAI was added to workers' customer service toolkit, problems were resolved 14% faster.
However, unlike writers in the highly unionized entertainment industry, call-center workers generally do not have a say about where the benefits from these productivity gains will go. Will AI be used as another way to squeeze more work for less pay? Or will this be a win-win to improve wages and conditions in an industry that is now characterized by exceptionally high worker turnover?
The WGA contract proves that-through collective bargaining-it is possible to both secure good jobs and innovate with GAI, and it is motivating unions around the world. Last week, I was in Germany and heard from leaders there who were inspired by the WGA's strike-and will be even more so now by their win-and this excitement is spreading.
The labor movement has a long tradition of regulating the use of new technologies to curb abuses and share the benefits, but this victory feels like a turning point in a new era.
The WGA members have crafted fantastical worlds, but this hope is not a fantasy. The writers have made it a reality that we believe will shape the future of work for the years to come.
Fast Company and Inc.newsrooms are represented by WGA East.
Christy Hoffman is general secretary of UNI Global Union, which represents unions with 20 million members in 150 countries, including Writers Guild of America, East and West.
Authorised by Dan Dwyer Secretary
- CWU Telecommunications & Services Branches.