Telstra workers vote for strike option
Telstra workers have overwhelmingly voted for the option to go on strike if a new enterprise agreement with Telstra cannot be reached.
Union members voted 88% yes in a protected action ballot, which will allow workers to take industrial action in the event of the continuation of stalled negotiations on wages.
The ballot of members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) was run by the Australian Electoral Commission.
CEPU Communications Union National President Shane Murphy said Telstra workers have spent months seeking a “fair wage offer” from Telstra and are now tired of waiting.
“We’ve got to this point because Telstra is asking workers to take a pay cut in real terms. It’s a disgrace,” he said.
The decision also reflects frustration over Telstra’s plan to cut thousands of jobs as part of its Telstra2022 restructuring strategy, even as the company prepares to open a new Innovation and Capability Centre in Bangalore to address what the company claimed was a shortage of qualified talent.
“First Telstra slashes jobs, and now management are asking the remaining workforce to take a pay cut. It’s time that Telstra put forward a fair and reasonable offer so that workers aren’t forced to take action,” Murphy said.
“Of course we don’t want to be forced to take protected industrial action, but at this point Telstra isn’t leaving us with many other options.”
In a statement, Telstra Group Executive for Transformation and People Alex Badenoch noted that CEPU members represent only around 10% of Telstra’s employee base, and that only just over half of these (56%) voted in the ballot.
She insisted that Telstra is well prepared to ensure that a potential strike does not impact services for customers, and that the enterprise agreement Telstra is offering is “fair given the circumstances” of the “unprecedented competitive pressures we’re facing”.
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