||Issue No. 208||13 February 2004|
All The Way With FTA?
Interview: Trading in Principle
Unions: While We Were Away
Politics: Follow the Leader
Bad Boss: Safety Recidivist Fingered
Economics: Casualisation Shrouded In Myths
History: Worker Control Harco Style
Review: Other Side Of The Harbour
State Of Confusion
Give Them A Medal
Telstra Provokes Jobs Fight
Exporting another raft of jobs is central to the telcoï¿½s plan to slash nearly $1 billion from its IT bill this year but the resistance of workers and community groups is certain to make the behaviour of Australiaï¿½s largest company a key issue in this yearï¿½s Federal election.
The ALP, Democrats and the ruling Coalition Government have already hinted as much, releasing contrasting positions on the 51 percent state owned operation, in the past seven days.
Labor Communications spokesman, Lindsay Tanner, has promised a more activist use of the Government shareholding. He claimed unjustified line rental hikes were fleecing consumers and committed the ALP to forcing Telstra to shed its 50 percent stake in Foxtel.
Tanner said it was "inappropriate" and "anti-competive" for the government owned giant to own a purely commercial activity like a pay tv network.
Democrats senator John Cherry also called for more social responsibility in Telstra management, arguing it was cutting infrastructure investment so it could return higher dividends to shareholders.
The Coalition has presided over a laissez faire approach to the company and made little secret of its desire for complete privatisation.
Under its watch, Telstra has cut more than 50,000 Australian jobs and begun to aggressively export well-paid IT jobs that were once touted as the saviour of the Australian workforce.
Last year Telstra subsidiary, IBM, was a key player in the sell-off of 630 tech jobs to lower paying Indian companies.
The company has announced that another $800 million worth of IT contracts are being reviewed with industry analysts saying most of that work is likely to be let offshore.
Some of these arrangements include human resource and payroll applications.
Opposition is being spearheaded by the CPSU, APESMA and the CEPU, and has brought in non-industrial groups such as the Australian Computer Society whose president, Edward Mandla, calls offshoring the "mother of all IT issues".
Those groups will kick off their public campaign with a rally on the corner of Lonsdale and Exhibition Streets, Melbourne, on Tuesday, February 24.
Heavy hitters, including ACTU president Sharan Burrow, CPSU secretary, Adrian O'Connell and Federal Labor front bencher Tannner have agreed to speak.
The rally was confirmed as Telstra reported a record half-yearly profit for the six months to Jan 31 of $2.29 billion.
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