|Issue No 87||10 March 2001|
Telstra Called on Part-Time Work
By Dermott Browne
While it's profit may be sky high, Telstra's right to call itself a family-friendly employer, is on the line according to the CPSU Communications Union.
CPSU, which represents thousands of Telstra staff, is launching a campaign to get parents better access to permanent part-time work.
Since Telstra dived into privatisation, its spin department has tried to paint it as a compassionate, community-focused organisation. The company pours millions of dollars into sponsoring high-profile events such as the National Rugby League, Olympic Games, Women in Business Awards and Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
When it comes to their own employees, though, it is often a different story.
While many leading corporates, including Westpac, the NRMA and ICI Australia offer new mothers part-time options, Telstra refuses to be bound on the issue.
The company regards it as a "policy" issue for pressured local managers.
This has led to varying entitlements across the company but as Telstra tightens its belt to appease the sharemarket, more and more women are being denied the part-time option; quizzed about future childbearing plans; and forced to resign.
The CPSU, has established a Maternity Rights Group which is distributing a petition calling on Telstra to meet its responsibilities to new mothers.
Since 1998, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women in Telstra experiencing difficulties returning to work after maternity leave. The CPSU is dealing with an increasing number of complaints over this issue.
Telstra Staff Cases Studies
ō Leanne was contacted by her manager while at home on maternity leave and told that she was to be made redundant. No other workers at her call centre were made redundant and the person performing Leanne's job while she was on maternity leave is still performing similar work in the call centre.
ō Kim was told that she will not be allowed work part time after when she returns from maternity leave. Kim needs to spend time with her child and feels she will have to resign if she is not able to work part time.
ō Anne had to resign because she was not allowed to work part time. During her time with Telstra she was put on to rosters that changed so often that it became impossible to maintain childcare arrangements.
Tip of the Iceberg
There are thousands of women in Telstra like Kim, Anne, and Leanne who have been badly treated and discriminated against because of their family responsibilities. Many women in Telstra are being told that there is no part time work available. They are being asked inappropriate questions about their plans to have more children. Others and told that they won't be promoted because, as women of child bearing age they are 'unreliable'.
Telstra policies on this issue are so vague that it is impossible staff to have complaints dealt with properly. The CPSU is challenges many of these decisions on benalf of members. However, we need support right now to stop women having to resign from Telstra.
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