TECHNICAL AND SERVICES BRANCH WEEKLY BULLETIN 2022
02 February 2022
TELSTRA E000 COVID PROBLEMS
Triple Zero is a critical service carried out by Telstra. WE have been concerned about the staff for some time seeking a safer workplace for members. We wrote to Telstra last week demanding improvements. (See extracts from the letters below).
Telstra provided details of 26 tests where a staff member tested positive.
We will accept their offer to inspect the work area. The response to our demands for cleaning is not sufficient.
MIRAIT EBA APPROVED BY MEMBERS
The Mirait EBA was put to a vote without a recommendation from CEPU to accept it. Mirait advised that a majority have voted to accept the EBA. It will now go to FWC for checking that it complies with the Boot Test. If so it will be certified.
TELSTRA FONE ZONE RETAIL RESTRUCTURE
Telstra has advised that it proposes to introduce changes in Telstra Retail and Fone Zone Retail leadership teams. Telstra announced it on 31 January 2022. If any member has an interest in this, please contact me.
APSS COST INCREASES
If you're an APSS member, you will have recently received a letter about an increase in `Indirect Costs' to the super scheme. The change does not affect your defined benefits. As an employee member in the APSS you pay no fees in the defined benefit. The change only affects APSS members with member savings - this is money you have saved in addition to your defined benefit. This change isn't an additional or new fee deducted directly from your APSS account - the costs that are changing are deducted before you are paid investment returns on your member savings. APSS will give a full explanation.
VENTIA ANNUAL PAY INCREASE
The CPI rose by 3.5% for the full 4 quarters of 2021. The current EBA sets out that rates of pay will be increased by 1.75% or CPI, whichever is greater. Thus the increase is 3.5%. The new rates are:
Rates of Pay -
Ordinary Hours Current Rate) New Rate from 31 Dec 21)
Team Lead / Tech Specialist $51.39 $53.19
Advanced Technician $47.63 $49.30
Technician 2 $43.56 $45.08
Technician 3 $38.73 $40.09
Trainee $30.78 $31.86
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS TO/FROM TELSTRA
I refer to your response re Covid procedures at E000. Our members have considered the response and find it unacceptable. Our members collectively are aware of 8 staff members who have contacted Covid recently. The circumstances point to them catching Covid at E000. We will advise members to lodge a workers compensation claim. This ensures that they do not lose personal leave entitlements and it maintains their normal weekly earnings.
We seek your urgent agreement to the following
1. Physical separation
The workstations are not separated by the minimum required - 1.5 metres. There must be a gap between workstations. The current barrier is not enough. In addition, there should be a high barrier between workstations that face each other. Staff standing are above the current barriers and the barriers have no effect.
Face masks are to be worn at all times by agents, except when they are on calls.
The workstations are currently separated by a minimum distance of 1.5m seat to seat in some pods, and 1.8m in other pods.
There is a 1.65m high clear barrier between pods which are positioned side by side.
For workstations facing each other, while a 1.65m clear barrier is not separating these agents, the agents are not facing towards each other while looking at their screens (which are positioned at a height to comply with ergonomic standards) and talking on calls, and as such the current workstation divider is acceptable when agents are standing and working.
Should agents in workstations facing each other have a social conversation over the height of the divider, they should be wearing their mask to minimise any risks. The business is comfortable to communicate this requirement to ensure all employees are aware of this requirement.
With shift changes at various times and the reuse of workstations by following shifts, a full time cleaner is required so that Telstra can fulfil its obligation to provide a safe workplace. The cleaning must cover workstations, work area generally, kitchen, break rooms and toilets.
Deep cleaning is needed when a staff member has tested positive.
Staff may also clean some of the workstation but only as an extra precaution.
There are two cleaning shifts throughout the day - one cleaner covers the peak period and will clean from around 11:00am to 3:00/4:00pm, and another cleaner works from 11:00pm to 2:00am.
The cleaners thoroughly clean all work areas generally and common areas, in line with government protocols.
Additional cleaning is carried out on specific workstations should an agent test positive.
Agents maintain their own desk for the entirety of their shift and do not hot-desk, so as to minimise any cross-contamination.
All agent desks are stocked with disinfectant wipes, hand sanitisers and tissues for agents to wipe down the desks before they start taking calls and at the end of their shift. This was common practice pre-Covid times and continues to be in place.
Disposable gloves (if they choose to use them) and RATs are provided free of charge to all agents.
The Call Centre also has wall hand sanitiser units positioned at entry door, lunchroom, and tea prep areas.
3. Notice of a positive test
the date and time of the test,
the workstation and any other visited location eg lunchroom,
the times that the staff member had been at work for the 3 days prior to the test, and
any particular contact areas not covered above.
No staff member can recall any notice of a positive test.
We seek that when a positive test is notified to you, that staff be informed. To achieve this we seek that a daily email be sent to all staff advising of nil positive teats. If however there is a positive test, you must advise in the email:
We also seek the number of staff at E000 who tested positive in the last 3 months, and the associated dates.
The current process when an agent tests positive is that the Centre Manager/Team Leader will advise other agents verbally of a potential exposure on-site, and that they should be guided by any NSW Health requirements. If agents have been undertaking the required sign-in protocols with the QR codes, other agents considered casual contacts would be notified by NSW Health Alerts.
This verbal notification will not be made to every agent, but rather to the agents who most recently worked the same shift as the agent who tested positive.
We do not believe that a daily email to agents to advise of no cases is required. The current process of verbal notification to relevant agents after a positive result has worked well and will continue. This process is complying with COVID-19 requirements/protocols and employee privacy, and anything more as requested may breach employee privacy.
A full Covid Notification Sheet (as attached) is now updated and placed on the Operations desk where agents collect their break sheets to ensure all employees have visibility of dates/times.
Please treat this as an urgent dispute in the EBA dispute resolution process. We seek a response by COB Wednesday 2 February.
If no agreement is achieved, we will take the matter further.
Please find attached a list of COVID positive cases from October 2021 to current.
Should you wish to view the current arrangements in place in E000 Sydney, the centre would welcome you to undertake a site visit.
POSITIVE TESTS AT E000
The following table lists the times of tests and the last shifts worked.
E000 SYDNEY - POTENTIAL COVID EXPOSURE NOTIFICATION SHEET
Updated 31 January 2022
Authorised by Dan Dwyer NSW Secretary, Sue Riley Vic Secretary
- CWU Telecommunications & Services Branches.