BSA faces class action suit over telco contractor workforce

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BSA faces class action suit over telco contractor workforce

In a case brewing since late last year.

BSA, a supplier of technical services to the likes of NBN Co and Optus, said it will “vigorously defend” a class action lawsuit filed over the way it allegedly assembled its technician workforce.

The ASX-listed service provider is accused of “wrongly categorising” technicians as subcontractors instead of as employees, leading them to miss out on pay and entitlements.

Shine Lawyers’ class actions practice leader Vicky Antzoulatos said the case, lodged in the Federal Court of Australia, “will argue the technicians are covered by the Fair Work Act (2009) and Telecommunications Services Award.”

“We allege this publicly-listed company has misrepresented the nature of its engagement with its technicians,” Antzoulatos said in a statement.

“The technicians believed they were subcontractors when we say in all respects they were employees and are entitled to minimum wage, overtime, sick leave, annual leave, and superannuation.

“We believe the technicians ended up with considerably less money in their pocket as a result of sham-contracting and this type of system of work needs to be called out, especially during these tough economic times when people are hurting.”

The case has been brewing since late last year. [pdf]

BSA confirmed in a filing to the ASX that it had been served with legal proceedings “in relation to its contracting arrangements, specifically to independent contractors and whether they are properly characterised as such.”

It criticised news of the case appearing in the media “before our counsel had received the claim and had an opportunity to review” it, and said that was suggestive of “a level of opportunism on the part of the plaintiff lawyers and litigation funders.”

“We will vigorously defend the action and our position on the validity of our contracting arrangements,” the company said.

“BSA takes its obligations in this area very seriously and has over many years regularly tested its contracting arrangements against legal requirements. 

“As a result, we are confident our contracting arrangements are sound.”

The legal action is being funded by Australian litigation funder, Litigation Lending Services Ltd.

Shine Lawyers said it was encouraging “all telecommunication technicians engaged by BSA, either directly or via an intermediary (sub-prime), from 2003 to date to register their interest in the class action.”

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