TECHNICAL AND SERVICES BRANCH WEEKLY BULLETIN 2022
06 November 2022
TELSTRA SUBSIDIARY LETTERS OF OFFER (CONTRACTS)
(Bulletin from our Vic T&S Branch)
The Branch has received a significant number of queries about the new contracts to commence your employment
(on a transfer of business arrangement) with the recently approved Telstra subsidiaries.
The over-riding employment contract is the latest EBA (2022-2024) for each applicable Telstra subsidiary.
They have all been voted on, and approved by The Fair Work Commission (FWC).
Your terms and conditions are all in the EBA, with clauses that include "Moving within the Telstra Group" that
provide the direction for your offer of employment with the new subsidiary.
In summary, for the offer to be deemed a suitable offer (as defined in the EBA) they must provide the following
conditions from the new subsidiary:
1) The offer must be to perform the same or substantially the same work to what you are currently doing in Telstra, AND
2) Be made on terms and conditions substantially similar to, and considered on a overall basis, no less favourable to what you are currently on in Telstra, AND
3) Recognises your service with Telstra for the purposes of retrenchment, LSL, AL, parental and personal leave, AND
4) Provides no less than 15 days personal leave, AND
5) Provides ordinary hours of work average of 36.75 hours per week, AND
6) Provides retrenchment benefits (i.e. weeks/year) calculated in the current EBA method, AND
7) Provides a guarantee of Entitlements as per Appendix E of the current EBA, AND
8) Provides for continuation of the Defined Benefits super membership.
If ALL of these 8 conditions are met, this would constitute a suitable offer which means that if you reject the offer by the specified date (Friday 11th of November) you essentially resign yourself from Telstra, without the payment of any retrenchment benefit.
If one or more of the identified points above is not provided in the job offer it will be an unsuitable offer. This means if you reject it, you are still able to avail of a redundancy package if your position in Telstra doesn't exist.
The new contract
We have had a number of queries relating to commencement date of the job offer, however the recognition of service in item 3 above covers it.
The mobility provisions indicate that the subsidiary may be able to move you around. We say the Enterprise Agreement wording would override the letter of offer words.
If there is a job title conflict, we say the job title you are currently on should continue, particularly given the Workstream arrangements in the Enterprise Agreement.
SUPERANNUATION UNDERPAYMENTS AT TELSTRA
Telstra has announced the findings of an external audit conducted into the payment of wages and superannuation of employees between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2022. It has however uncovered that in a few specific circumstances, superannuation payments were not made, where it was in fact payable.
The Union understands that these instances occurred where a certain payment, such as the frequent travel allowance, was deemed to not attract superannuation but that there is now a revised view. A total amount of $3.58 million, plus interest will now be repaid to those impacted. Given the discrete nature of these occurrences the average loss is less than $200 covering a seven-year period, with those impacted by this discovery, both former and current employees totaling approximately 17,000 people.
If you are affected by this, you will soon receive notice from Telstra, advising you of the amount owed to you and how this will be remediated. In most cases, the additional superannuation contribution will be paid either directly to your superannuation fund or to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which then ensures these payments are directed to your superannuation fund.
Former employees who have changed their contact details since ceasing employment are encouraged to contact Telstra directly, via email: email@example.com
In order for there to be no disadvantage to impacted employees (and former employees) an additional 10% per annum will be paid on the super contribution to be remediated, calculated from the start of the quarter where the shortfall occurred to 4 November 2022.
It is important to note that from 1 July 2022 onwards, Telstra has been paying this additional superannuation to eligible employees.
If you are concerned that the additional contribution you receive through this remediation process may cause you to exceed the superannuation contributions cap for the financial year ending 30 June 2023 ($27,500) an exemption may be sought via the ATO website.
TPG: IMPROVEMENTS SECURED, BUT EA STILL TOO FAR OFF THE MARK
Your Union, the CEPU/CWU, has been engaged in negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) for TPG Telecom's retail, call centre and logistics workers, since late last year. Since the last time we wrote to you, we have won significant improvements to TPG's earlier offers and the company now intends to formally offer the Agreement to employees. Despite the improvements, the Union cannot endorse the proposed EA.
TPG were offering just a 2% guaranteed annual wage increase, for three years. Furthermore, only the minimum wage rates in the EA would receive the increase. This meant the majority of employees would see no pay increase, at all. Adding further salt to the wound, TPG proposed to pay between little and no penalty rates to permanent day-shift employees.
What Union-won improvements have been secured?
Following further negotiations, the wage rise will now be 10% over a three-year period for most employees. This will be paid as 4% in year-one guaranteed for all and 3% each year in years two and three, for those earning under particular wage thresholds. Actual wages would increase by this amount, rather than just the minimum rates applicable in the Agreement. Penalty rates will also be payable at the rate of 10% per hour on Saturdays and 35% per hour on Sundays.
Why we can't endorse this Agreement
The improvements won are significant, but we started from two very low, below-market offers. Although the improvements mean employees who would not have received a wage rise, now will, the wage rise still results in an overall cut to pay, in real terms.
With the rate of inflation currently running at 6.1%, a 4% wage increase in year one puts you and your family 2% behind being able to keep up with the cost of living. It gets worse in year two and three. TPG has insisted on maintaining a wages threshold in order to become eligible for guaranteed wages in 2024 and 2025. For example, if a Level 1 employee's gross annual earnings for 2023, including gross commissions and bonuses, equals or exceeds $78,000, they will not receive a guaranteed pay rise in 2024. Similar thresholds apply across all classification levels.
Lastly, TPG are not playing fair on penalty rates. Members working after 6pm Monday to Friday or at any time on a Saturday deserve at least a 25% penalty rate. 50% should be payable for Sundays. TPG is not just trying to shift the goal posts on an industry standard, but a whole-of-market standard of what workers should expect to be paid when working unsociable hours. Essentially - the more work you undertake in unsociable hours, the more your base-rate of pay shrinks. This is completely inconsistent with the purpose of penalty rates.
Employees will vote on the proposal, commencing 2 November
TPG has decided to formally offer the Agreement to employees via a ballot. You will have the opportunity to review the contents of the proposal from 24 October and the vote will open 2 November, running until 5:30pm on 7 November.
Should the majority of employees vote yes to accept the proposal, the Agreement will then be forwarded to the Fair Work Commission for approval before coming into force and the Union will commence working to ensure TPG honours their commitments.
Should employees vote no and reject the proposed Agreement, the Union is committed to continue bargaining with members to pursue a better deal.
Either way, now is the time to join your Union. TPG workers and their families deserve better. Whether we return to the bargaining table sooner, or later, the only way to secure the outcomes that workers deserve is by building strength as a Union, together.
Authorised by Dan Dwyer NSW Secretary, Sue Riley Vic Secretary
- CWU Telecommunications & Services Branches.