Telstra confirms 500 employees went on strike

Union estimated up to 6,000

Credit: Dreamstime

In another action against Telstra's plan to let go 9,500 staff by 2022, up to 6,000 Telstra workers are expected to go on strike on 10 April.

On Monday, 8 April, the CEPU Communications Workers Union (CWU) notified and authorised further industrial action to advance members claims for a new, fair enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) – including a pay rise.

The strike will primarily impact maintenance, including diagnostics, testing, new service provisioning including NBN connections, fault repairs and investigations.

A Telstra spokesperson told ARN that the action only involves CEPU members, which account for approximately 10 per cent of its total workforce. That would result in no more than 3,000 employees, however the CEPU told ARN it expects up to 6,000 employees to go on strike.

Telstra employed a total of 31,419 as of December 2018, including contractors and agency labour.

During the day of the strike Telstra claimed that "well under 1,000 members" have taken action and that the numbers provided by CWU are an "exaggeration".

"We have been given notice that members of the CEPU, one of Telstra’s three unions, may strike today. This is one of a number of actions they have sought to take," the Telstra spokesperson said.

"While it is disappointing that the CEPU has decided to encourage this action in what is a challenging time for our business, we respect the legal right of the union and its membership to do so."

Telstra also said that in a previous similar action, only two per cent of employees participated and there was no impact on customer services.

CEPU communications division national president Shane Murphy said Telstra workers have been forced to take the protected industrial action following the telco’s refusal to negotiate a fair enterprise agreement with its workforce.  

"We’ve been forced to take protected industrial action because Telstra is trying to force workers to take a pay cut in real terms," Murphy said.

"Workers have spent many months trying to get Telstra to come to the table with a fair wage offer to no avail. Instead of paying their workforce fairly and giving Australians the quality service we deserve, Telstra management seem intent on axing jobs, slashing wages and driving down services.

"Telstra CEO Andy Penn, whilst taking home millions, is overseeing the axing of thousands of jobs and attempting to force the remaining workforce to accept a pay increase well below inflation – effectively a pay cut."

As per Telstra's full year statutory accounts filed with the Australian Securities Exchange in August 2018, Andy Penn 's pay went from $5.2 million in 2017 down 28 percent in 2018 to $3.7 million.

The strike is intended to last 24 hours.

In March, the CWU had called on members employed by Telstra to go on a strike across Australia on Tuesday 12 March.

The CWU had first suggested a ban on undertaking specific duties during unpaid time, however it said the telco expressed intentions to deduct a day's pay for every day engaged in the protected action.

On 11 April, Telstra told ARN 500 employees went on strike including full-time and otherwise.

Updated at 2:00pm to include the numbers provided by Telstra.

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