News wrap


News wrap

Federal parliament: 2008; Plastic bags used to fix phone lines, says union; Comcare inquiry and self-insurers; Three-day Conference: 3rd Annual Industrial Relations Forum.


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Federal parliament: 2008; Plastic bags used to fix phone lines, says union; Comcare inquiry and self-insurers; Three-day Conference: 3rd Annual Industrial Relations Forum.

Federal parliament 2008

Federal Parliament commences on Tuesday 12 February. It sits for 18 weeks during 2008. IR legislation will figure prominently in the Government's agenda.

Outline of IR agenda

  • Workplace Relations Transitional Bill
    (to be introduced early February: intended to abolish the Australian Workplace Agreement system, introduce transitional individual agreements, commence the process of award modernisation and simplification, and repeal the obligation on employers to issue workplace relations fact sheets)
  • National Employment Standards - Workplace Relations Exposure Draft Bill
    (to introduce the government’s proposed 10 new national employment standards
    - exposure draft to be released for consultation prior to its introduction into the parliament)
  • Substantive Workplace Relations Amendment Bill - later in 2008
    (to amend workplace relations on a broader scale)
  • Award Modernisation and Simplification
    (may be necessary for the Transition Bill to be enacted before award changes can fully commence)


How IR may look under Labor

Plastic bags used to fix phone lines, says union

Telephone lines in Sydney are being patched up with plastic bags and tape because the understaffed maintenance workforce is being forced to use quick fixes, according to their union.

NSW CEPU Assistant Secretary Steve Dodd blamed the situation on job cutting policies introduced by Telstra management which has led to the loss of thousands of technicians' jobs.

‘These rising volumes of faults are caused by Telstra’s ongoing program of retrenching skilled communications technicians and major cutbacks to the maintenance of Telstra’s copper cable network,’ Dodd said.


‘Hundreds of skilled communications technicians have been made redundant in Sydney over the past 18 months following Telstra’s CEO Sol Trujillo’s announcement in 2005 to reduce its workforce by 12,000.’

Todd said the use of plastic bags to waterproof phone lines in underground footpath boxes was so widespread that some areas of Sydney were referred to as ‘Baghdad’ by Telstra technicians.


‘Telstra telephone users, in particular small businesses, are now feeling the affects of an unreliable Telstra telephone network throughout Sydney, in addition to the ongoing concern throughout regional and rural areas across Australia’, Todd noted.

The union warns telephone users to be prepared for a further deterioration of Telstra telecommunication services including lengthy delays with fault repairs now rapidly spreading to all areas, given the serious low level of skilled communication technicians now available within Telstra.

Dodd complimented the efforts and long hours worked by the present level of Telstra communications technicians.


Telstra subbies threaten strike over pay cut

Telstra threatened to sack workers not signing AWAs, says union

Comcare inquiry and self-insurers

A review into Comcare will look at whether the scheme provides appropriate OHS coverage for self insurers and if the recent changes to workers compensation have affected return-to-work outcomes, the Federal Government announced a week ago
Deputy PM and IR Minister Julia Gillard said in October 2007 Labor was concerned that Comcare was originally set up to allow fair competition for businesses competing with government instrumentalities (such as Telstra was) but now had 19 self insurers in it.


Labor aims for 'harmonised and reformed' national OHS system

Three-day Conference: 3rd Annual Industrial Relations Forum

Dates: 31 March – 2 April 2008

With the new Labor Government’s changes to industrial relations legislation, the IR landscape is set to dramatically change.

The 3rd Annual Industrial Relations Forum will help you understand and adapt to the new legislation and the transitional arrangements which will be brought into effect.

Sessions include how to:

  • comply with the 10 national employment standards
  • analyse the effects of the phasing out of AWAs and review how the new AWA structures will affect you
  • analyse state legislations and the relationship between new federal systems when devising and interpreting an employment contract
  • understand the role of the AIRC in the transitional period
  • grasp the unions' perspective on the changing IR landscape from the ACTU
  • assess the legal ramifications of performance management.

Plus - don’t miss the essential post-conference workshops:

Workshop A:
Organisational structure, culture and the enhanced role of HR post Work Choices

Workshop B:
Step-by-step legislative compliance post Work Choices

Venue: The Grace Hotel, Sydney

More information
Web: See the conference agenda
Phone: 02 9224 6000


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