|Issue No 90||30 March 2001|
Forty Seven Years of Service Rewarded
A 63-year-old Melbourne woman's battle for a future in the workforce has been boosted by a Federal Court ruling against Telstra.
Last week's decision that Telstra discriminated against union members in choosing employees for redundancy has been seized on to reopen the case of Rosemary Kilborn, thrown on the scrapheap after 47 years of service.
CPSU Communications Union organiser Rupert Evans called Telstra's decision to terminate the West Geelong woman on 28 March "blatantly unfair".
"After loyally serving one employer and the community for half a century, to be treated this way is beyond belief. They should be giving her a medal not sacking her," Mr Evans said.
"Now that there is a big question mark over their redundancy procedures we want this case re-opened."
The union will hang its hat on a number of issues, including the Federal Court ruling that former Telstra employee director, Rob Cartwright, discriminated against unionists.
The full bench, headed by Chief Justice Michael Black, questioned Mr Cartwright's evidence to the court finding in it "a degree of improbability".
Not only was that embarrassing to Mr Cartwright, since appointed a senior vice president of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, but the CPSU believes it could rebound on his former employer.
Last March Mr Cartwright sent an email to 275 Telstra managers on the same day the corporation announced it would cut 10,000 employees. He said staff who had signed individual contracts had shown "trust" in the corporation and warned managers they would be held accountable to support the company's "preferred model of individual employment."
Kilborn, a decades long union member, has fought her impending redundancy through internal procedures and efforts to utilise the help of both her union and Australia's ageing Prime Minister.
She wrote to Mr Howard on March 9 pleading for help in retaining her position at Telstra's Exhibition St, Melbourne headquarters.
Ms Kilborn told the Prime Minister she believed she was being discriminated against "because of my age and nothing else."
While Mr Howard hasn't bothered to reply, her union has told her the court case "strongly suggests" she has been the victim of double discrimination.
Telstra Flouts Court Finding
Meanwhile, the CPSU Communications Union will take on Telstra over call centre closures it says "flaunt" a Federal Court judgement.
The union, which won full bench backing for its claim that Telstra redundancy procedures discriminated against employees on awards and collective agreements, is furious that the corporation has gone ahead and targeted two of its most highly-unionised sites for closure.
CPSU Communications Union secretary, Adrian O'Connell, promised to engage the telecommunications giant in an "industrial, legal and political battle" over plans to close Parramatta and Ashfield call centres, from early June, at the cost of 93 jobs.
Mr O'Connell labelled the announcement, and it's timing, "arrogant".
"Only last week the full bench of the Federal Court accepted Telstra's former employee manager, Rob Cartwright, had discriminated against union members when it came to redundancy. They walked out of the court, put their heads together and came back with this, it's an outrage," Mr O'Connell said.
He suggested none of the jobs would be redundant in the real sense of the word - the company would either outsource them to lower-paying subsidiary, Stellar, or tranfer them to lower-paid, contract-based operations in Lismore and Townsville - population centres in Coalition-held marginal seats.
"This is the implementation of the Cartwright plan Telstra concocted to discriminate against unionists," Mr O'Connell said. "It might be illegal under Australian law but that doesn't seem to bother them.
Our members at Parramatta and Ashfield have served Telstra and the community for many years. Their livelihoods should not be sacrificed to outsourcing, individual contracts or pork barrelling."
The CPSU is urging Federal Government, as the majority shareholder in Telstra, to block the Parramatta and Ashfield closures until the corporation gives a guarantee that replacement jobs will attract the same wages and conditions.
Interview: On the Up and Up
On the eve of new figures showing the slide in union membership may be bottoming out, ACTU secretary Greg Combet takes stock of the state of the movement.
Unions: Organising Theory
Labor Council’s Chris Christodoulou reports back from this week’s ACTU Organising Conference
Economics: The Failure of the Third Way
In his presentation to this week's ACTU Organising Conference, John Buchanan painted a dark picture of the emerging labour market.
History: Emblems of Unity
The Gregory J. Smith Collection of Trade Union badges was auctioned today in Sydney. Smith compiled a book on 763 of his remarkable collection which was published in 1992.
Legal: Della's Compo Plan
Labour lawyer Richard Brennan places the NSW workers compensation reforms under the microscope.
International: East Timor Goes Union
Workers in the fledgling nation have established their equivalent to the ACTU to build a safety net for workers.
Satire: Management for the Post-Industrial World
A new management fad is sweeping the post-industrial world, which has major social and political implications at the macro and micro level. We have called it "Purge Management Strategy" (PMS).
Review: Surviving The Temptations of TV Island
Cultural analyst Mark Morey rakes over the coals of American TV culture to find very little is there.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005