||Issue No. 334||24 November 2006|
It’s Who The Economy Works For, Stupid
Interview: Common Ground
Industrial: A Low Act
Unions: The Number of the Least
Politics: The Smoking Gun
Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
Environment: Low Voltage
History: The Art of Social Justice
Review: Work’s Unhealthy Appetite
Culture: A Forgotten Poet
Telstra Redundancies ‘Inhumane’
During a current hearing into the treatment of sacked designers at Coffs Harbour, Telstra asked Vice President Lawler to disqualify himself on the grounds of bias. VP Lawler acquiesced - taking the opportunity to sledge Telstra over its "unconscionable" treatment of loyal employees.
Referring to a case mid-year when Telstra made redundant a 50-year-old long-term employee who'd suffered a genuine work-related injury, VP Lawler remarked that:
"A decent employer would not throw this man onto the scrap heap after giving so many years of faithful service in circumstances where there was no complaint about his performance and he was only a few years short of qualifying for superannuated retirement ...
"Redundancies ought not be processed in a fashion like the assembling of McDonald's hamburgers.
"Given the thousands of positions within Telstra ... it was inconceivable that Telstra would not be able to find an alternative position if it really wanted to ... it was unconscionable to dismiss him without making serious efforts of redeployment."
In the current case, the communications union (CEPU) is representing four designers who were made redundant, only to have their positions filled with people on AWAs.
The CEPU is arguing Telstra didn't offer the opportunity to mitigate the negative impacts of redundancy, including the opportunity to 'job swap' - that is, have the affected workers moved to other positions and have the redundancies taken by willing people.
"The fact that they will not consider job swaps, that robs us of the opportunity to consult with them on measures to avert proposed retrenchments an don measures to mitigate the adverse effects," the CEPU's Dan Dwyer told the hearing.
Telstra manager Judith Wagner said job swaps were "not on the table" at Telstra.
In his decision to withdraw from the case, VP Lawler criticised Telstra's lack of flexibility in moving staff between business units.
"Telstra's different business units appear to treat themselves as independent businesses with formalistic inquiries as to vacancies ... not constituting a genuine attempt to locate an alternative position."
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