||Issue No. 207||22 December 2003|
Backs to the Wall
Interview: Robbo’s Rules
Unions: Fightback 2003
Bad Boss: Madame Lash Whips Tony
Politics: United Front
Economics: Looking Back - Looking Forward
International: Net Benefits
History: The New Guard
Poetry: What is the PM singing this Christmas?
Review: Culture That Was
The Locker Room
Looking The Otherway At Christmas
Fashion Police Collar Moe
Company fashion police sent a male worker home after he attended a CPSU stop work meeting, last week, and docked him for being off-site - but not until he had been on the job for two hours and 46 minutes and helped the centre over its morning peak.
The action came as CPSU members in Victoria joined USU counterparts in NSW agitating against the imposition of second generation AWAs.
The original, take-it or leave-it employment contracts sliced thousands of dollars off rates that had been negotiated with Telstra, Australia's largest company.
Now the US call centre giant is pushing staff in both states to sign-off on second generation AWAs but employees are demanding that the company negotiate with relevant unions, and sign-off on the newly-registered Contract Call Centres Award.
TeleTech has refused to sign the safety net document or enter negotiations with either union. Although the new award provides only minimal safeguards it would oblige TeleTech to pay loadings for Saturday and Sunday hours, something not required under the terms of Federal Government-supported AWAs that were imposed without negotiations.
Hundreds of union members have so far refused to put their names to the new TeleTech documents. CPSU members held a half hour stop work meeting outside the Moe call centre last week to urge the company to enter negotiations.
Organiser, Sue Brookes, described the new AWAs as worse, on conditions, than the originals.
"The pay increase is pathetic, especially given where these people are coming from. They are offering the CPI movement, plus one percent, but it is capped at 3 percent, irrespective of what happens with inflation."
Moe workers also say the company is dishonouring minimal sick leave obligations included in their AWAs, even after they present medical certificates.
The CPSU is handling the case of a former Moe employee who left TeleTech a mongh ago and still has received her final fortnight's wages and accrued annual leave.
Telstra Picks Up Union Signal
Independent electrical contractors are flocking to the union banner after striking Foxtel installers secured deals leaving them around $500 a week better off.
Two hundred Telstra/Foxtel sub-contractors called off a week-long strike after contractors, Siemens Theiss and ABB, withdrew demands for 20 percent cuts in job rates.
Telstra contracted out the work five years ago, then churned through one contractor after another in a bid to keep driving down pay tv and broadband installation costs.
The subbies banded together, under the CEPU banner, after Siemens-Thiess and ABB picked up the latest contracts and attempted to impose further cuts on earnings.
More than 90 percent of the 205 contractors employed in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth threw their lots in with the CEPU, precipitating industrial action that last for a week in NSW and 10 days in Victoria.
The sub-contractors picketed Telstra headquarters and used their vehicles to mount blockades on Australia's most profitable company.
The action finished when Telstra, Siemens-Theiss and ABB, ditched clawback demands and agreed to consider a log of alternative claims.
CEPU has set up a sub-contractors committee that will meet monthly, and filed a log of claims on another Telstra contractor, Comet, after 75 percent of its subbies joined the union at site meetings last week.
CEPU organiser, Shane Murphy, confirmed the campaign to unionise independent contractors would move to satellite cable tv installers and Optus sub-contractors in the New Year.
Amongst the immediate gains won by broadband and Foxtel installers, last week, were:
- restoration of the job rates being paid prior to Telstra re-letting the contract, saving workers from average $500 weekly cuts to their incomes
- bulk insurance discounts arranged through CEPU
- sub-contracts varied to include dispute resolution procedures
- workers will be allowed to paint over the Telstra or Foxtel livery they had been required to display on their vehicles
Murphy said workers still weren't "thrilled" about new contracts being offered by Siemens Theiss and ABB. They have given written notice of their intention to seek five percent increases each time the head contracts come up for annual review.
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