TECHNICAL AND SERVICES BRANCH WEEKLY BULLETIN 2023
5 November 2023
Our office is closed this Monday and Tuesday.
ANNUAL LEAVE - ANNUAL PRESSURE
Once again we have members complaining about pressure from Management to get staff to take annual leave. Given the usual modus operandi of "Human" Resources, they press Team Leaders to do the dirty work (see our article below). This matter was raised in a meeting with Telstra on Friday. Telstra deny that it is seeking any more than what is in the EBA. They agreed that there were a few rogue managers out there and will deal with them if we report them. Telstra will provide us with their instructions to management. We will review it.
See our note below re Union busting. Now we have not seen that type of high pressure in Telstra. But we do see KPIs which provide incentives to Managers to test limits. A budget can be improved if leave is reduced. These are subtle incentives and may tempt some managers to press the limits.
Union busting has been a separate industry in industrial relations in USA (and some other countries). It has many tactics. In the book "Confessions of a Union Buster" by a US "consultant" Martin Levitt, Levitt identifies the equivalent of the team leader as the fundamental tool of the union busters. The team leaders were isolated, divided and threatened. He said:
"For my campaigns, I identified 2 key targets: the rank and file workers and their immediate supervisors. The supervisors served as my front line. I took them hostage... So through hours of seminars, rallies and one-on-one encounters, I taught the supervisors to despise and fear the union. I persuaded them that a union-organising drive was a referendum on their leadership skills and an attempt to humiliate them. In my first meeting with each foreman, I assured him that whatever he said was confined to that room... That of course, was a bold and cruel lie"
FORCED ANNUAL LEAVE EBA PROVISION
The EBA provision did not change with the new EBA19. It states:
27.2. Taking annual leave
a) You must agree with your manager when you will take annual leave. Your manager will act reasonably when trying to accommodate requests, having regard to Telstra's business requirements.
b) Telstra may direct you to take leave if it's reasonable to do so. Examples of when Telstra might do this include:
i) if Telstra is shutting down all or part of the business for a period, such as over Christmas or New Year;
ii) if you have accrued more than 6 weeks of annual leave (7 weeks for continuous shift workers) - though Telstra won't leave you with less than 4 weeks of accrued annual leave if Telstra does this (or 5 weeks if you are a continuous shift worker).
c) If you are on annual leave and you need to take some other form of leave (for example, personal leave), Telstra will re-credit your annual leave if the other form of leave is approved.
We have a Fact Sheet which has covered past issues and our advice. See
Fact Sheet - Forced Leave
for more details.
TELSTRA CONTACT CENTRES EMPLOYEE SCHEDULE FLEXIBILITY
We have been advised of a trial in contact centres. What we have been told is that Telstra will shortly expand participation in its trial of the Attune shift scheduling software platform.
The system allows what Telstra claims is a better way for contact centre agents to adjust their own schedules without compromising on Telstra's requirements linked to customer wait times and without needing to approach management to request those shift changes - allowing agents to adjust their shifts in real-time without lengthy and restrictive approval processes that currently exist.
During the initial trial phase, 174 of 181 participants logged into the system and 76% of agents went on to make a change. Over the 12-week trial period, 6027 discrete shift changes occurred and 18 employees split 93 shifts consistent with the requirements of the current Enterprise Agreement regarding shift splitting.
Throughout the trial, Telstra sought feedback from employees, with a particular focus on:
1. the empowerment to change rosters without approval;
2. the ease of use and timeliness to make changes;
3. the ability to create various shift combinations (change the length of standard shifts, start / finish times, split shifts, across different days of the week, shift swaps);
4. the high value of spilt shifts to meet ongoing and ad hoc needs which may ordinarily require the use of leave; and
5. their wellbeing and appreciation for the flexibility it enables for personal needs.
Telstra is now seeking to expand that trial. Your participation would be optional.
TELSTRA CONTACT CENTRES EMPLOYEE SCHEDULE FLEXIBILITY
Sound too good to be true.
We will seek a meeting to find out.
We would ask members who participated in the trial and any members who opt to participate in the extended trial, to report back to us with any issues (good or bad) you encounter when using the platform. Doing so would allow us to make any necessary representations to ensure that any further contemplated changes to employee shift scheduling arrangements benefit you.
USA: U.A.W. STRIKE GAINS COULD REVERBERATE FAR BEYOND AUTOS
After 6 weeks of selective strikes, and with President Biden visiting the picket lines in support, the Union made big gains.
This is an extract from the New York Times by Noam Scheiber.
Experts said the union's new contracts could set precedents that give labor advantages when bargaining contracts and organizing workers.
The United Automobile Workers union's approach to securing big gains in contracts with the three large U.S. automakers could have ramifications for other workers and unions.
Laying out a tentative contract agreement to end a six-week wave of walkouts at Ford Motor, the United Automobile Workers president made an unusual pitch to other labor unions.
"We invite unions around the country to align your contract expirations with our own," the U.A.W. leader, Shawn Fain said.
"If we're going to truly take on the billionaire class and rebuild the economy so that it starts to work for the benefit of the many and not the few," Mr. Fain added, "then it's important that we not only strike, but that we strike together."
Beyond seeking the largest wage and benefit increases in decades - and a reversal of the concessions the union made during the companies' downturn, such as lower wage tiers for newer workers - Mr. Fain repeatedly spoke of fighting for "the entire working class."
Labor experts said the proposals that union negotiators agreed to with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the parent of Jeep, Ram and Chrysler, had produced gains that could in fact reverberate well beyond the workers that the union represented.
"It is a historic and transformative victory by the U.A.W.," said Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Dr. Lichtenstein said that winning substantial gains through a strike in a critical industry demonstrated the benefits of work stoppages after decades in which workers had been taught to regard strikes warily.
"Fain says: `Hey, strikes work, solidarity works; we're more unified now than before the strike,'" he added. "I think that's a powerful argument unions can take elsewhere."
Even before the strike ended, unions at other companies appeared to be doing just that.
In an interview in late September, David Pryzbylski, a lawyer who represents employers, said union officials in two separate contract negotiations had invoked the U.A.W. when discussing the possibility of a strike. "Outside the U.A.W., it's putting wind in their sails," Mr. Pryzbylski said. "They may be blustering, but I am seeing it already trickle down."
The element of strategy that the U.A.W. brought to its strike may also prove instructive to other workers and unions. Rather than ask all employees to strike at once, the union started small, with one key plant at each of the Big Three, then ramped up as it sought to bring additional pressure. The U.A.W. refrained from expanding the strike when it felt a company was bargaining productively, and it expanded to a highly valuable plant when it felt a company was dragging its feet - in both cases, to create an incentive for the companies to engage with the union.
In some ways, the recent U.A.W. effort builds on the gains made by unions involved in other high-profile standoffs. To resolve a nearly five-month strike with Hollywood writers in September, major studios agreed to a set of restrictions on the use of artificial intelligence. The agreement was a break with employers' typical insistence that management should have control over technology and investment decisions.
CHANGES WITHIN OPTUS
Optus has advised of some further redundancies in 3 divisions within Optus; Enterprise and Business, People & Culture and TV & Content. Overall, there are 61 positions affected, with 32 in NSW, 16 in Victoria, 7 in Qld, 3 in SA and 3 in the ACT.
If you have any issue, please contact us.
Authorised by Dan Dwyer Secretary
- CWU Telecommunications & Services Branches.