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Telecom industrial action over redundancy: the fight begins

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MEDIA RELEASE WARWICK SMITH M.P. Shadow Minister for Communications

10 April 1991

Telecom Industrial Action over Redundancy: The Fight Begins

Warwick Smith, Shadow Minister for Communications, today predicted a long and "bloody" industrial campaign by Telecom unions in their fight to protect the benefits that monopoly had delivered.

Mr Smith said that the current bans by APTU on the installation of all new phone lines, was an attempt to secure a "new deal" on redundancy payments. The union wants an extra weeks pay for each year of service and a guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

Telecom has already announced that 6000 employees are to go. The fight for efficiency has now begun. Yesterday Telecom took the bans matter to the Industrial Relations Commission which recommended the bans be lifted and that Telecom place a moratorium on involuntary retrenchments for 90 days. Commissioner Lewin directed the union to

report back by 9.30 tomorrow.

The winds of competition are now being felt and the community will see public sector union militancy increase as they try to pick off Government Business Enterprises one by one.

The announcement (The Bulletin April 9) by ATEA's federal president, Mr Cooper, of "some big show-downs" and, "... our industrial muscle is there and will be used when we think it should", is a reminder to all that union pressure will try to choke Australia into

submission to achieve its aims.

The leaked Industrial Relations Department memo of 18 March indicates redundancy will emerge as a major pressure point. However, a Cabinet Minute of 11 February, agreed that existing standard of benefits be retained and that claims outside existing arrangements be subject to a series of tests which if met would then be decided by the Minister for Industrial Relations after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Finance.

The unions don't want to be locked into a system they themselves have agreed to and will push to ensure they can extract maximum benefits from a weak Minister and a divided government. The consumer will pay for it in higher charges, as Telecom's attempts to improve internal efficiencies and productivity levels are strangled by the unions.

Telecommunications unions have fed on the fruits of slack management, captive markets, and "sweetheart" industrial arrangements.

Contact: (06) 277 3332