The decision to create a new Government-owned company to build and operate the National Broadband Network is a great outcome for workers in the telecommunications industry, say unions.
The new company will provide certainty of investment and quality jobs for decades, said ACTU Assistant Secretary Tim Lyons.
“Today’s announcement is a major step in delivering a crucial piece of nation-building infrastructure for the 21st century,” Mr Lyons said.
“The National Broadband Network will help transform the Australian economy and the national telecommunications industry.
“The Government investment in this project will maximise Australian jobs, encourage business investment, boost consumer demand and confidence and mitigate the worst impacts of the economic downturn.”
The NBN will create thousands of highly-skilled jobs in the construction, maintenance and ongoing operation of the new network.
Unions look forward to working with the new government-created company in delivering this project in a constructive and co-operative workplace environment, with decent, quality jobs and skills development.
Mr Lyons said the joint communications unions would seek immediate meetings with the Government to ensure the maximum benefit for Australian telco workers.
Unions are confident that the Government’s majority shareholding in the company will ensure that best practice IR is achieved by adhering to the Fair Work Act.
“Co-operative industrial relations with respect from both sides will be essential in delivering this project on time and on budget,” he said.
Mr Lyons said it was disappointing that the management and board of Telstra put at risk the jobs and future investment and shareholder value by failing to treat the tender process with respect and not lodging a compliant bid for the project.
“Telstra now stands at a crossroads – it can engage positively with the government and the network builder to ensure the smooth rollout of this project, or continue its strategy of belligerence and opposition,” he said.
“For the sake of its employees and its shareholders, the board and management need to urgently reconsider their unnecessary combative stance to all stakeholders and adopt a new approach of positive engagement.”

There are 32,000 staff at Telstra. The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU), Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia (APESMA) in conjunction with the ACTU are calling on Telstra management to re-enter negotiations over a new collective agreement and transition arrangements for staff on AWAs.