Official company documents revealed today show a secret strategy used by Telstra management to get 15,000 employees onto Australian Workplace Agreements ahead of a ban on them which came into force in March.
The secret training kit obtained by a newspaper lays out a plan used by human resources managers to induce Telstra employees to transfer onto Work Choices AWAs which reduced their rights in the last days before being banned by the Rudd government.
The tricks used by Telstra managers included profiling of workers’ vulnerable pressure points to sign an AWA, a bonus system for managers to sign their staff up to AWAs, and guidelines for scripts about how to convince workers to sign.
The secret strategy has come to light as Telstra management has turned its back on union approaches to discuss a new co-operative and constructive relationship with its workforce.
Unions have called on Telstra management to reconsider its stance and resume talks on a new Collective Agreement to cover the whole of the company’s 32,000 staff.
“These secret documents blow Telstra management’s game plan wide open,” says ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence.
“They lift the lid on the company’s dirty tricks plan to sign 15,000 employees onto AWAs in the last days before a Rudd government ban.
“Tactics the company used such as the psychological profiling of employees’ vulnerabilities are unethical and are not the Australian way of treating staff.
“The documents also show that Telstra management knew it was operating on slippery ground and provided managers with tips on how to avoid allegations of coercion or duress during the drive to increase AWAs.”
A report by the Workplace Ombudsman on Friday found a prima facie case against a Telstra manager who allegedly sought to illegitimately influence three employees to accept AWAs.
“The current laws are not strong enough to protect workers from this sort of underhanded behaviour by managers and show that the rest of Work Choices needs to be gotten rid of,” Mr Lawrence says.
“Telstra management is clinging to the Work Choices laws that have been rejected by Australian voters. Telstra workers are sick and tired of this combative & hostile approach by management.
“We saw it again last week when Telstra’s HR department unilaterally broke off talks over a new enterprise agreement and transition arrangements for staff on AWAs, putting the security of their pay and conditions at risk.
“Unions are ready to resume talks with Telstra to negotiate renewal of the collective agreement and an orderly transition for workers wishing to opt out of AWAs. But we want the company to lift its game and treat its workers with more respect.”