Union slams NBN Co for handing out $78m in bonuses to execs

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Union slams NBN Co for handing out $78m in bonuses to execs

The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia (CEPU) has slammed NBN Co for giving $78 million in bonuses to its most senior employees during the last 6 months.

In an announcement on its website, the union said it was “disgusting” that the network provider handed out the bonuses amid a pandemic while workers are having their pay cut — and in many cases, going unpaid — and Australians are left without basic internet.

The CEPU is urging that the Federal Government intervene with NBN Co to stop exorbitant bonuses and also scrap what it calls a pyramid contracting scheme to deliver the network.

“The reports today that NBN Co is dishing out millions of dollars in bonus payments to their most senior employees is outrageous,” CEPU national president Shane Murphy said.

“While the bosses get millions in bonuses on top of already exorbitant pay, technicians are having their pay cut and are struggling to get their invoices paid whilst thousands of customers are still being left with shonky internet connections.”

Murphy added that the bonuses show NBN Co’s “utter contempt” for its customers and workers on the frontline. “This is totally un-Australian and unethical,” he said.

The CEPU cited a report from the Sydney Morning Herald in October 2020 where some 850 staff were paid more than $200,000 a year, and about 110 are paid between $300,000 to $400,000.

The network provider at the time said the salaries were benchmarked against other telecommunications companies and are more aligned to the “more modest ratio” of comparable government business enterprises instead of listed entities.

“The NBN Co axed hundreds of jobs in 2020, and at the same time was dishing out millions in bonuses to its most senior employees already on six figure salaries. It’s a joke,” Murphy said.

“We need the Federal Government to intervene immediately and put a stop to these bonus payments and instead focus on getting their job right – delivering an effective internet connection to Australian homes and businesses.”

An NBN Co spokesperson told CRN its employee salaries for FY21 remained at the same level as FY20 with no pay rises apart from those directly linked to individual promotions.

"Short-Term Incentives (STI) are included for selected roles at NBN Co and are only awarded if certain targets are met at the end of the performance period and subject to Board approval. These targets are set out in NBN’s Annual Report. STI payments that were made in August 2020 also included some deferred STI payments from FY18," the spokesperson said.

"The STI program for FY20 was an ‘at risk’ component of pay as it first depended on company performance where threshold metrics were set at the beginning of the operating year and made public through the Corporate Plan. Individual performance was also a key consideration.

"For FY20, the NBN Co Remuneration Committee awarded Short-Term Incentive (STI) ‘at risk’ salary payments based on the recognition that the Company exceeded the majority of its corporate targets."

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