TECHNICAL AND SERVICES BRANCH WEEKLY BULLETIN 2022
13 February 2022
BSA CLASS ACTION SETTLED
The following is an extract from CommsDay.
BSA to pay $20m to settle telco technician class action. BSA announced it had provisionally settled a class action brought against it on behalf of thousands of subcontracted telco technicians, including techs who carried out work on behalf of Telstra, Optus and NBN Co.
The class action, filed in July 2020, alleged that the techs were improperly classified as contractors instead of BSA employees, and as a result may have missed out on a range of entitlements. A statement released by BSA yesterday said the company would pay $20m to settle the case.. The two parties will pay their own costs
Shine Lawyers told CommsDay: "Shine Lawyers is pleased to confirm settlement. The settlement is subject to the approval of the Federal Court. Shine Lawyers believes the settlement is fair and reasonable and in the interests of our clients and all group members who were technicians for BSA between 2003 and 24 July 2020.
BSA's board of directors determined that whilst confident of its prospects in defending the claims successfully, an agreement to settle the proceedings was a commercial decision made in the best interest of BSA's shareholders," BSA said. Rohan Pearce
TPG, formed from various mergers including AAPT, iiNet, TransACT and Vodafone, is about to commence bargaining for its first company wide EBA. TPG have released its draft EBA - and it is not a good starting point. Complex provisions exist and wages are set to exclude penalties and allowances. There is no guarantee of a pay rise year if you are paid above the existing Award rates. Bargaining needs to improve the EBA. We are about to survey members and staff. Contact us to learn more.
E000 COVID CASES
We visited E000 at Paddington this week to inspect the actions taken to protect staff from Covid. There was a list of cases where a staff member was tested positive. Government notices were on the notice board. etc. There was no buddy training in progress. No surprise given that Telstra knew that I was attending. We raised a number of matters including barriers, buddying and cleaning.
Telstra has since responded with two letters (below). We will be responding this week.
E000 MORE CASES
Last week we reported that there had been 25 positive cases since mid December (26 since Oct21). We understand that 3 more cases have been added this week.
E000 RESPONSE #1
Thank you for meeting with me yesterday (7/2/22). I have summarized the concerns discussed and added some comments.
Perception that 40% of the team were infected with Covid based on team size 60
Team size is 99 people includes Managers, Agents and Support employees. Our Safety team have confirmed that 8 of the recorded cases as potential workplace exposure (attended the office with-in the 48hr period prior to testing date). We do not believe 8 cases over 2 months constitutes an outbreak as implied. 6 of the 8 cases occurred in January when NSW community cases were at their highest in the pandemic with daily numbers up around 38,600 new cases.
Buddying new employees, social distance concerns and some people are saying they don't want to have people sit with them
Sharing expertise with new employees is a core role expectation & in line with Telstra Values (Better Together) ,it's also a terrific way to build relationships with new team members. All trainees are required to wear masks while sitting with a Buddy - this ensures any inability to stay 1.5mters away is supported by the use of facemasks ( as per current NSW Health requirements )
Desk barriers aren't high enough and recommend additional higher partitions on all desks so when employees are call taking the people across are protected. The Internet Kiosk are does not meet the social distancing requirements (regardless that employees wear masks when at these computers)
We are currently enquiring with our Properties Team on the standard screen placement and height requirement specifically in relation to our current Call Centre configuration to ensure we comply with the NSW Covid safe standards. If adjustments are required or recommended we will confirm the changes and timelines with you.
Deep Cleaning Required after a workplace positive case is identified
Specialist Cleaning is not required for identified positive Covid cases- https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/business/linked-with-positive-worker-case
Contract Cleaners are only onsite for very small periods . They should also be cleaning the workstation desks after an employee finishes their shift
Contract cleaners work 2 shifts x 7 days a week including Public Holidays . There are 2 x daily cleaning regimes, 1st Cleaning period commences mid morning and into the early afternoon & one Night session as per previous provided information .
Communication requires improvement- recommend email or daily printouts
Email is not a practical solution as 50% of the 000 workforce are Contingent workers who are not provided a TOMS ( Telstra Owned Mobile Device) and therefore cannot access emails outside of work . Agents also do not have a personal computer to freely access emails. The business is happy to print out any updates and place them on the Operations Desk (Break sheet area) and on Bulletin Boards- content will also be shared in Centre Meetings.
Positive Covid Case Notifications will continue to be printed out and published as above and in addition the verbal notification will occur via the Operations Desk Supervisor advising all arriving employees of any new case date/times. Names will be ticked off on the daily roster sheet re the verbal notification.
Dan I would also like to suggest a regular site visit every 3 months - it would also assist you in building your relationship with your Union representatives
E000 RESPONSE #2
I refer to my latest correspondence to you dated Friday 4 February 2022 (below), which was ahead of your E000 site visit on Monday 7 February 2022. My email outlined all the measures Telstra has implemented in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our employees at E000 during Covid; and this was reinforced in Paul's email to you on Tuesday 8 February.
It has since come to our attention that a CWU Newsletter was circulated to members on Sunday 6 February 2022, which included inaccurate statements as follows:
"Telstra gave us a long response and a table with the details of 26 recent positive tests".
The number of Covid notification matters at E000 from October 2021 to end January 2022, as provided to you last week, was 26 (or 25 from December 2021).
It has been identified by the SSW team that 8 of the recorded cases were potential workplace exposure matters (that is, attendance at the office within the 48hrs prior to testing).
It has been implied that Telstra has covered up an outbreak, which is false - Telstra has been transparent about Covid numbers throughout this period, and these numbers do not reflect an outbreak. This kind of suggestion only increases anxiety in an already-difficult time.
"..nearly half the staff at E000 had returned a positive test".
Your statement is a misrepresentation of the situation and can cause fear and harm to the E000 employees.
There are 99 employees at the Sydney E000 centre. If we use the case numbers of 26 from October to end January, as provided to you last week, that is only 26% of the employee base which you misrepresented when you said "nearly half the staff".
"It seems certain that a number of E000 staff caught Covid at work. This is apparent from the number of cases detected in a short time from mid December".
As above, the number of Covid cases at E000 since December is 25. This is a relatively small percentage of the workplace (~25%) at a time when NSW was experiencing Covid case numbers of around 20,000 new cases each day.
To state that these employees certainly caught Covid at work is inaccurate and again can instil fear and harm to the E000 employees.
As discussed with you by Lou Hudson, Executive Safety Security and Wellbeing, on 9 February 2022, Telstra has implemented numerous Covid safety measures in order to protect the health and wellbeing of all employees, especially those in our critical environment at E000.
This has included thorough cleaning and desk barriers in line with government protocols, adherence to mask-wearing requirements in the workplace, positive Covid case notifications to relevant team members, and support provided by our SSW team to E000 employees who contracted Covid.
We are happy to consider suggestions for improvement and where these are reasonable and assist our people, to implement same, as evidenced by the provision of a list of Covid-positive cases at the Operations break sign-in desk and the reconfirmation of barrier requirements with relevant authorities.
We also plan to offer an open invitation to all staff on site to attend a Q&A session with Telstra's Health and Safety Team to talk to and answer any questions on our Covid-safe approach.
We would appreciate your cooperation to focus on all the positive aspects of how Telstra has supported its employees during these Covid times.
Authorised by Dan Dwyer NSW Secretary, Sue Riley Vic Secretary
- CWU Telecommunications & Services Branches.