Australia: Telstra seeks to slash wages after announcing massive job cuts
8 August 2018
Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, is attempting to ram through a new enterprise agreement (EA) that will impose real wage cuts on thousands of workers. The current agreement expires in October. Negotiations for a new one have been taking place since May.
The company is offering a pay increase of just 4.5 percent over three years or 1.5 percent annually for employees covered by the 2015–18 EA. The current rate of inflation now stands at 2.1 percent, but is expected to rise amid the growing cost of fuel, power and other essential commodities.
Other Telstra workers employed under a category known as “Family Employees,” introduced after 2013 to undermine permanent jobs and conditions, will not even receive this small wage increase.
On Monday, Telstra put its EA offer directly to the workforce insisting it be voted on in a company-organised ballot over the next days. The move is aimed at preventing any serious discussion of the proposed EA and stampeding workers into accepting it.
Telstra’s assault on wages comes only weeks after the company announced it will destroy 9,500 jobs over the next four years, or one quarter of the company’s existing staff. This is one of the largest sackings in Australian corporate history.
The jobs cull, announced in June, is part of a broader restructure entitled “Telstra 2022” designed to slash the company’s costs by $1 billion over four years, including through a 30 percent reduction in labour costs. This target is also behind the company’s aggressive current drive to cut wages.
Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (CEPU) national president Shane Murphy told the media that Telstra “is seeking to…