Telstra threatened to sack workers not signing AWAs, says union

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Telstra threatened to sack workers not signing AWAs, says union

The Workplace Ombudsman has commenced its investigation into allegations that duress was being applied to Telstra employees to agree to accept re-offered AWAs, including the threat of redundancy for those who refused to sign.

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The Workplace Ombudsman has commenced its investigation into allegations that duress was being applied to Telstra employees to agree to accept re-offered AWAs, including the threat of redundancy for those who refused to sign.

The CEPU will tell an Ombudsman inquiry this week that management has been calling employees at home to coerce them into signing the AWAs.

CEPU State Secretary Ian McCarthy said when workers said 'no' they were told to 'think about it' and rung again the next day.

'We have heard from people that they have been threatened with being made redundant unless they sign but when we confront Telstra they deny it.'

McCarthy said that under the AWAs workers would lose redundancy rights, pay rises were only in line with annual increases in the minimum pay rate and performance pay was at the discretion of management.

A Telstra spokesman said the claims of duress were 'complete nonsense' and workers were free not to sign the AWAs.

At the commencement of the investigation, the Ombudsman's office held meetings with both Telstra and senior representatives of the ACTU and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).

Telstra ‘cooperating’

‘Telstra is cooperating with the investigation and has supplied all the documentation requested by the Workplace Ombudsman to date and the unions have and are continuing to provide information to support their allegations of duress by Telstra in connection with the re-offered AWAs,’ Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson said.  

‘However the Workplace Ombudsman’s investigation will be broad, thorough, independent and impartial and will not hinge on information provided by either Telstra or the unions.’

The Ombudsman’s office will interview those Telstra employees who have so far been identified to have been allegedly subjected to pressure in connection with the AWA re-offer, he said.  

19,000 employees

It will contact approximately 19,000 Telstra employees that have been re-offered an AWA and are based in disparate locations. 

‘Any Telstra employee, or anyone else who feels that are they being, or have previously been subjected to undue pressure in connection with an AWA should immediately contact the Workplace Ombudsman on 1300 724 200,’ Wilson said. 

‘These contacts from concerned workers will be treated as a matter of urgency. 

‘Alternatively they can visit our website at www.wo.gov.au where the locations of our 26 offices across metropolitan and regional Australia can be found if they wish to visit in person, or online claims can be submitted and assistance can be accessed via live help chat room facilities.’

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