||Issue No. 267||10 June 2005|
Rivers of Gold
Interview: The Baby Drought
Industrial: Lies, AWAs and Statistics
Workplace: The Invisible Parents
History: Bruce’s Big Blunder
Politics: All God's Children
Economics: Spun Out
International: Shakey Trials
Legal: Civil Distrubance
Review: Crash Course In Racism
Poetry: You're Fired
The Locker Room
All The Way With The USA
Expensive Door Charge
Teen Years in Detention
Court Cases are Media’s Drug
Lang Is Right
Hertz Meenz Hurtz
Foxtel Scores Own Goal
The blunders are a serious stumbling block to Foxtel's digital rollout and telephony corporates are looking around for someone to blame.
Foxtel has pointed the finger at its parent company, Telstra, which, in turn, is trying to level hefty fines on independent contractors.
CEPU (Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union) rep Shane Murphy said under-resourced contractors would fight back.
"If they attempt to fine these guys, or send them back at no charge, we will be calling a meeting and seeing where we go from there," Murphy said.
"One key reason for last year's strike was to get training on new technology.
"The company agreed but nothing has happened. Most of these guys hadn't worked in telephony before and they are expected to go into people's homes, cut into phone lines, then connect the phone lines back to the digital boxes.
"It's specialist work and, to do it properly, you need a minimum of a fortnight's training. Telstra gives them two hour in the classroom and sends them out."
The independents are at the bottom of a pyramid contracting operation that has been used to slash rates, conditions and training.
Foxtel contracts its cable connections to two international firms, ABB and Siemens Theiss, who, in turn, contract to Telstra, which subcontracts the work to independent operators.
Its satellite connections are contracted to BSA and Downer, then Telstra, then the independents.
Rates at the bottom had been screwed down so far that, since 2003, more than 800 installers joined the CEPU and fought collectively to improve their situations.
Last year they struck, picketed and blockaded corporate on the way to earning installation rate increases of up to 33 percent.
Soon after the contractors rolled Telstra and Foxtel, the federal government announced legislation that would make it illegal for them to have union representation in the ACCC, where contract disputes are heard.
Murphy says the "independent contractors bill", proposed by Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, would leave the installers fighting commercial giants, like Foxtel and Telstra, single-handed.
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