The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) has advised unionised Telstra staff to continue with planned industrial action despite a long anticipated meeting with Telstra human resources executives on Friday.
The meeting with the CEPU, the first under the new Telstra CEO David Thodey's regime, focused on creating a timetable for discussion to solidify an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA).
According to CEPU National President and Victoria branch secretary Len Cooper, Telstra has agreed to begin negotiating the EBA prior to changes to workplace laws being introduced July 1.
A formal meeting to discuss the EBA and timetable arrangements between the parties has been scheduled for Thursday June 18. In return, Telstra has requested the cessation of the industrial action.
But the CEPU claims any directive to stop industrial action requires both the approval of the CEPU National Secretary and a vote. Plans for strike action will continue until further notice.
Cooper told iTnews the union is still waiting to be convinced of Thodey's recent promise to "bargain in good faith".
The damage done
Documents leaked by the CEPU today give a good indication as to why Thodey has thus far taken a conciliatory stance on the issue of dealing with unions.
Thodey experienced first-hand the effect of industrial action during his tenure leading Telstra's Business and Government division.
In a circular recently released to union members, the CEPU has revealed that high level corporate and government clients such as the ABC, Toyota, the ANZ, Santos, the Department of Education and Australian Customs Service experienced installation, service and maintenance delays over a six month period due to strike action by Telstra's Next Generation Operations division (NGO).
The union has provided evidence that Telstra senior management - including NGO director Lincoln Jurd - had been made aware of claims in March that Telstra staff were advised by managers to manipulate statistics to mask network performance.
This statistical manipulation was intended to conceal the effect of the industrial action, CEPU alleged.
In a series of correspondence with the CEPU, Jurd rejected the claims, stating that imbalances to statistics and targeting were caused by an increase in customer demand.
"I reject your assertion that we are manipulating statistics to cover up any alleged impact relating to industrial action," Jurd states.
However the union has produced what it claims to be a series of internal memos to illustrate that staff had been pressured by management to falsely "retarget" orders in order to cover up the detrimental impact to service delivery and performance.
Cooper warned that disruption to service would continue to impact Telstra's NGO customers in the lead up to negotiations and will also affect the Media Services division which is handling digital switchover for networks Seven and Nine.