Unions welcome Telstra’s NBN deal

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Unions welcome Telstra’s NBN deal

Good news for telco workers.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has welcomed Telstra's agreement with NBN Co, calling the $11 billion deal "good news" for the country's telecommunications workers.

Announced yesterday, the deal signals the structural separation of Australia's incumbent telco, and the end of its wholesale copper business.

Telstra's copper and cable broadband networks will be progressively migrated to NBN Co's wholesale-only fibre network, which could render some Telstra staff redundant.

However, with NBN Co committed to deploying 250,000km of fibre to more than 10 million premises in eight years, ACTU expects no shortage of job opportunities for telecommunications workers.

In a stakeholder presentation last week, NBN Co's stakeholder relations advisor Duncan Bremner flagged a need for 15,000 to 20,000 full-time workers at the peak of construction, deploying fibre to some 4,000 premises per day.

"The National Broadband Network is a massive infrastructure project that will be important to the future of Australia's economy, driving productivity and growth," ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said in a statement.

"This deal helps resolve major barriers with the project and is a major step forward ... It means everyone working in our communications industry and particularly Telstra employees can have greater confidence and job security."

As part of the agreement, the Government has pledged $100 million to assist in the retraining and redeployment of Telstra staff affected by the change.

The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU), which represents 10,000 Telstra staff nationally, welcomed the prospect of jobs growth and retraining.

"The NBN project will generate a jobs boom for an industry that has suffered waves of redundancies," CEPU national president Ed Husic said.

"To be ready for this, we need to train up current telco employees - to help them move from their 'copper-present' to a 'fibre-future'."

"It's essential to ensure Australian workers have the skills needed to build and operate the broadband network and that we maximise the creation of good jobs locally," he said.

"We also want to secure decent jobs for our members and ensure they have the prospect of good careers in a sustainable and successful Australian communication industry."

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