Contentious Telstra enterprise agreement clears final hurdle

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Contentious Telstra enterprise agreement clears final hurdle

The Fair Work Commission has approved Telstra’s Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) 2019-2021 and is set to go live today.

The EBA was voted on in December 2019 with 65 percent of Telstra employees voting yes. The Fair Work Commission approved the agreement last week and starts operating today until its nominal expiration in September 2021.

This marks the end of a months-long negotiation between Telstra and the unions some of its employees are members of, including the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia (CEPU).

Negotiations started in 2018 when Telstra announced its ambitious Telstra2022 strategy, which involved axing thousands of jobs, streamlining the telco’s structure and reducing costs.

The remaining workers classified as Job Family and Workstream employees, including some CEPU members, were offered a 1.5 percent pay increase. The union deemed the proposal was a pay cut compared to the current annual cost of living increase of 2 percent and the average wage rise of 2.7 percent, and voted against it.

Negotiations dragged on for months before union members called for a 24-hour work stoppage in March 2019 when talks started to stall.

One clause in particular, Clause 45, caused tensions between the two parties, which would permit Telstra to make workers redundant and then offer them jobs in its subsidiary companies on packages that “are no worse” and “substantially the same” as their current jobs.

Eventually both sides reached an agreement in December 2019 after unions agreed to take a 1.8 percent pay rise for the first year and a two percent bump in the second year, while some Job Family employees will receive a guaranteed minimum of one percent. Clause 45 was also amended to keep the same benefits when employees are transferred to a Telstra subsidiary.

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