|Issue No 118||02 November 2001|
Stellar Win in Call Centre
Consistent agitation from CPSU workplace activists has won a breakthrough award at Stellar Call Centres.
Stellar, a joint venture between Telstra and US giant, Excell, agreed last month to be party to the first award in Australia's booming contract call centre industry.
The sector employs 90,000 Australians, mainly on AWAs, and analysts predict that figure will soar beyond 300,000 over the next five years.
The CPSU Communications Union and Stellar struck deals on classifications, redundancy provisions, penalty payments, safety net salaries, a 38-hour week, along with recognition for the union and its delegates.
A handful of activists, at Wollongong and Robina, spear-headed a campaign that has turned Stellar's approach to industrial relations on its head.
One year ago, all staff were employed on non-negotiable individual contracts; union officials were barred; disciplinary action against delegates was routine; management refused to recognise the CPSU and called security or police whenever an organiser was sighted.
One delegate received a written warning for notifying workmates of an upcoming union picnic.
While, on-site, members refused to be cowed, officials broadened the campaign through Trades and Labor Councils; the media; applying pressure to state Governments and unionised companies with which Stellar hoped to do business; and even registering freedom of association complainst with anti-worker Office of the Employment Advocate.
Wollongong activists Paul Stolk and Sherri Purse were head-hunted to tell their stories for a Labor Party campaign video.
Immediate award benefits will be organisational but the establishment of improved core rates and conditions will lift the "no disadvantage test" bar which AWAs are required to clear before registration.
In the medium-term, the award is likely to undermine the rationale behind persisting with individual contracts.
CPSU Communications Union assistant secretary, Stephen Jones, hailed the award as an opportunity to sort out a "pretty hostile relationship".
"Since Stellar started operating in 1999, there has been a fair bit of bomb-throwing from both sides," he said.
Jones said the advantages, to workers, of improved rates and conditions were obvious but predicted Stellar would also benefit from "regularising its employment relationships".
® The CPSU has also established a presence at fledgling telcos Vodafone, Orange and AAPT.
The union was one of several that went into negotiations with the Australian Industry Group yesterday in a bid to extend an interim award, created on October 15.
When a union noticeboard went up at Vodafone, Strathfield, as a result of the interim document, it marked a breakthrough in an organising campaign marked by knockbacks, frustrations and run-ins with security guards.
Interview: Flying High
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet on saving Ansett jobs, defeating Howard and wooing a new generation of unionists.
Corporate: Howard's List of Shame
ACTU President Shaharn Burrow runs through the litany of corporate collapses and down-sizes that have cut a swathe through the Australian community.
Campaign Diary: Week Four: The Battle Lines Drawn
It was a week that saw the leaders launch their campaigns, kiss lots of babies and battle for space with a Holy Jihad.
Industrial: Desperately Seeking Solutions
They might not call it 'industrial relations' in the spin of modern politics, but all the major parties have released plans that will affect the way we work over the next three years.
Economics: Manufacturing Prosperity
Neale Towart looks at the hidden debate of the election campaign - the degree of intervention government should take through Industry Policy.
History: War And Politics
The Conservatives are trying to wage war and win the election. The pundits say itís a tried and true recipe for electoral success. The 1940 federal poll suggests otherwise.
International: Globalising Labour
On the eve of the International Metalworkers Federation Congress general secretary Marcello Malentacchi argues all nations need to retain a manufacturing base.
Review: Security - Who Needs it?
What does it mean to be secure? Should we even need to ask? In his new book, Anthony Burke asks the tough questions.
Satire: Locksmith Promises "Greater Security" If Elected
A Melbourne locksmith has agreed to run for federal parliament, campaigning on the key issue of security.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005