The Heads of Agreement signed today between Telstra and the National Broadband Network Company is good news for jobs in Australia’s communications industry and good news for our national infrastructure says the ACTU and the CEPU.

The deal announced today by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Telstra CEO David Thodey will ensure NBN Co, the government-owned company rolling out the network, will have access to Telstra’s infrastructure.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said unions welcomed the deal, a key element of which is the provision of $100 million for training and skills development for Telstra staff to assist with the broadband network roll-out.

“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.

“The National Broadband Network is a massive infrastructure project that will be important to the future of Australia’s economy, driving productivity and growth.

“It provides direct job opportunities for thousands of people who will be involved in building and operating the network. And it will have an impact on thousands more throughout the economy once it is up and running.

“Unions are pleased that the deal starts to address key aspects of the workforce requirements for the project.

“It will now be important for Telstra to conclude its negotiations with its employees over a new collective agreement for the company.

“Signing today’s NBN deal is another indication that Telstra’s senior management want to move on from the stubbornly aggressive and counter-productive stance of its former CEO Sol Trujillo,” said Mr Lawrence.

Ed Husic, national president of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, which represents the majority of Telstra’s field workforce, welcomed the prospect of jobs growth and re-training flowing from the deal.

“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,” Mr Husic said.

“The NBN project will generate a jobs boom for an industry that has suffered waves of redundancies.

“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’. The $100 million set aside for training is a terrific outcome.

“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.

“That’s why unions are in discussions with the NBN Co over employment conditions for workers on the project,” said Mr Husic.

Media contacts    
Jeff Lawrence, ACTU c/-  Amanda Nguyen 0418 479 455
Ed Husic, CEPU 0437 371 372