The Communications, Electrical and Plumbers Union has called on members who work for Telstra to go on strike, escalating its dispute with the carrier after a previous call for limited industrial action.
The Union (CEPU) and Telstra are in dispute over changes to an enterprise agreement. Talks have not gone the way CPU hoped and CEPU therefore called for members to stop "undertaking specific duties" by way of protest.
Telstra retaliated by saying those who took such action would be docked a full day's pay.
CEPU says that reaction justifies a strike, which it has called from 12:01 am on 12 March until 11:59 pm on the same day.
“In effect, Telstra has threatened to lock employees out of their employment – basically saying; ‘Engage in this ban and you might as well stay home, because we won’t pay you anything’,” the CEPU said.
“By doing so, Telstra has displayed utter contempt for you and your rights to fight for what you deserve – along with disgraceful contempt for their customers who will now, instead, be significantly affected by an escalation in action.”
The proposed ban was put in place in an effort to protest while minimising the impact on customers. The union also said Telstra had been "talking to whoever will listen" about how any industrial action would be insignificant and without consequence to their operations.
The CEPU noted that the strike excludes members working in Triple Zero centres and those performing medical or emergency work, although bans relating to recall and emergency work are to go ahead as planned on Thursday in all states except WA, where the ban will start on Friday.
A Telstra spokesperson told CRN the telco was given notice of the planned industrial action.
"While it is disappointing that the CEPU has decided to encourage this action in what is a challenging time for our business, we respect the legal right of the union and its membership to do so," the spokesperson said.
"The action only involves CEPU members who make up around 10 percent of our total employee base and it is up to these members to decide if they want to participate in these work bans.
"We have plans in place to ensure we avoid disruption for our customers and the vast majority of our people who are not participating in any action. We remain committed to constructive discussions with our people and unions to reach a new agreement."
Last month, 88 percent of CEPU members employed by Telstra voted in favour of participating in a possible industrial action if Telstra “continues to refuse to provide its workers with a fair enterprise agreement”.