Telstra’s Human Resources department should take responsibility for a finding today that a Telstra manager applied duress to several employees to sign Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs).

Unions welcome the decision by the Workplace Ombudsman to pursue legal action against the manager but are disappointed Telstra as a whole has been able to avoid a finding of applying systematic duress.

This finding shows that the Work Choices IR laws are still in operation and provide too much protection for employers says the ACTU.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said:

“The Workplace Ombudsman has had to carry out its investigation using the Howard Government’s IR laws which strongly favour employers that want to put their staff onto AWAs.

“Despite being hamstrung by Work Choices, the Ombudsman has made a damning finding against a Telstra manager.

“It is wrong for Telstra’s Human Resources Department to say the company has been vindicated by the Ombudsman’s report.

“The company has nothing to crow about.

“It may have been legal for Telstra management to get 15,000 staff to sign AWAs late last year in the full knowledge that new AWAs would soon be banned by the Rudd Government but it was certainly not ethical.

“Telstra management should stop behaving unethically towards the company’s employees.

“Telstra workers are worried that their wages and conditions are not keeping pace with other companies in the telecommunications industry.

“They also want some certainty over their wages and conditions given that 21,000 staff at the telco are on AWAs which will expire in the near future,” said Mr Lawrence.

Telstra’s HR department yesterday called off negotiations with unions representing Telstra staff over a new Collective Agreement and transition arrangements for staff on AWAs.

Unions have called on Telstra’s HR Department to reconsider and come back to the negotiating table for talks.

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Mark Phillips
Ph: 0422 009 011