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  Issue No 49 Official Organ of LaborNet 07 April 2000  




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More Hot Air: Cyclone Telstra Hits Townsville

Telstra staff cut off from work by floodwater after Cyclone Tessi hit Townsville this week have been denied special leave by management and told to take 'recreational leave' or leave without pay' instead.

With power to the North Queensland city cut off, the sales staff, were called at home and summonsed to work, despite the flooding and the fact that schools and child care centers were closed.

The move, the latest in a series of anti-worker actions by management, has added fire to growing unrest by workers within the organization.

Community and Public Sector Union Queensland secretary Bill Marklew says the normal practise in these circumstances would be for an employer to allow staff to take emergency leave, special leave or carers' leave.

"Here was a chance for Telstra to recognize the work it's staff had done over the last 12 months in securing $11 million a day profit for the corporation," Marklew says. "But now it has turned out that Telstra wants to save even more money at the expense of its staff!"

Court Action to head Off Job Cuts

Meanwhile, Telstra unions have lodged an application in the Federal Court in Melbourne seeking an urgent injunction preventing the shrinking giant from targeting union members in its planned cull of 16,000 employees.

The court action follows the release of an e-mail to Telstra team leaders telling them that workers who have signed individual contracts should receive preferential treatment when staff are cut.

The unions have retained Julian Burnside, QC, and Josh Bornstein for the legal challenge the lawyers involved in the successful MUA and BHP disputes.

Telstra Group Managing Director Rob Cartwright's sent a message to all Employee Relations Managers and Team Leaders in Telstra stating:

"Staff members who have transferred to individual contracts have placed their trust in their managers and the Company to create a work environment that reinforces respect and dignity for the individual, and which places primary emphasis on productive relationships in which individual accountability encourages each person to contribute to his/her full potential. Managers must not under any circumstances compromise these important values in the way they implement cost reduction initiatives which lead to staff reductions. Managers will be held accountable to support the values of the Company's preferred model of individual employment"

CPSU national secretary Wendy Caird says the union will argue the proposed sackings should be stopped because they are tainted with discrimination, political bias and prejudice.

"Telstra is enthusiastically implementing the Howard Government's agenda of driving workers off union awards and agreements. But in their zeal they have overstepped the mark," Caird says.

"The Workplace Relations Act still makes it illegal to sack someone because they choose to work under a union award or agreement."

"We are asking the Federal Court to urgently put a stop to this discriminatory behaviour. There are 16,000 jobs at stake here, with the first thousand are expected go in a matter of weeks."

The community has had enough of unrestrained corporate greed. If these job cuts are not stopped they will destroy the livelihood of working families and result in worse services for all," added Ms Caird

Telstra Staff Need Your Support

The CPSU Communications Section, on behalf of the union members in Telstra, is

seeking messages of support in its campaign against Telstra's proposal to sack

10,000 workers and de-unionise the company.

CPSU National Secretary, Wendy Caird, explains, "Our campaign is multi-faceted combining political, legal, PR and community organising strategies. For example, we have just lodged an application in the Federal Court seeking to put a hold on the redundancies."

"We are also leafleting all major Telstra workplaces, encouraging staff to speak out against discrimination in their workplace.

"A key part of the strategy is to let Telstra workers know that they are not alone. If you and your workmates could pass a resolution similar to the one below, we will pass it on to our members in Telstra as a message of solidarity."


"This group of union members deplores the actions of Telstra in proposing to put 10,000 Australians out of work. As Australia's most profitable company, Telstra has an obligation to its customers and its staff to provide safe secure jobs and services, and a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.

We express our strongest condemnation of the proposal to target union and award based staff over its preferred employees on AWAs when it hands out its notices of termination.

We pledge our support to the employees of Telstra and the CPSU in their action to beat the company in its attempt to sack workers and de-unionise its workforce."

mailto:[email protected] or

Fax your message of support to 02 9221 9797


*    Visit the CPSU

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 49 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Rebuilding from the Rubble
Ramona Mitussis, APHEDA's co-ordinator in East Timor reports on how Australian workers are contributing to rebuilding a nation.
*  East Timor: UN Poseurs Delay Reconstruction
Returning to the Dili compound where he spent five days under siege, HT Lee finds an aid bureacracy out of control.
*  Unions: The Last Bank in Minto
"It's a busy branch", Carol Davison insists, watching the crowd gather around the Commonwealth Bank branch at Minto Mall. By the time you read this, the branch will be another empty shopfront, stripped of its fittings, with junk mail starting to accumulate under the front door.
*  International: Workers of the World Unite
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia's keynote address to the ICFTU Congress in Durban, South Africa this week.
*  Olympics: Strange Tenants
Rentwatchers lifts the lid on the legacy the 2000 Games will leave on Sydney's tenants.
*  Politics: The Loneliness Crisis
Lindsay Tanner looks at the politics of the soul that form the backdrop of many of our social ills.
*  History: Songs of Solidarity
Visiting US labour acadmeic John Lund has found a new way to digest history - he commits workers' struggles to song.
*  Satire: Seven Launches 'Popstars' Spin-off
On the heels of Popstars comes a new show taking five minor celebrities and turning them into normal people
*  Review: Keating's Engagement
Whether it's analysis or self-justification, Paul Keating's new book is an engaging read.

»  Free East Timor? For the Workers, It's Just Cheap
»  Maria Wins Historic Email Test Case
»  More Hot Air: Cyclone Telstra Hits Townsville
»  Cleaners Walk: We Are Humans, Not Robots!
»  Reith's Day in the Dock Draws Near
»  Olympics Tickets: One Size Doesn't Fit All
»  Back Door Sell-Off of Nursing Home Beds
»  Entitlement Changes Fail to Protect Workers
»  Shaw Sets Safety Guidelines
»  Water Workers Ready to Walk
»  Honour for Jack Mundy
»  Lindsay Tanner Chat Session
»  Radio Free East Timor Fundraiser Thursday
»  Workers Online Turns 50 Next Week!

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  Public Meeting: Globalised Capital and International Labour.

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