Service stream goes overseas to find workers


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19-08-2011 08:18 AM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


19-08-2011 08:18 AM



19-08-2011 08:54 AM

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2011-08-19 08:18:59

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WEBER, David


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Service stream goes overseas to find workers -

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Service stream goes overseas to find workers for communications arm

David Weber reported this story on Friday, August 19, 2011 08:18:00

TONY EASTLEY: The national contractor for Telstra is recruiting communications workers in the
Philippines because it says it can't find them in Australia.

Service Stream Communications designs, constructs and maintains telecommunications networks.

It has a contract for the NBN rollout in new estates.

Service Stream says a lack of skilled workers, particularly in Western Australia, is forcing it to
recruit overseas for its existing contracts for the copper-wire network but the communications
union believes the workers are available locally.

David Weber reports.

DAVID WEBER: Service Stream Communications has more than 2000 workers across Australia. Most of
them are employed in maintaining the copper-wire network.

The executive general manager, Stephen Ellich says that to find people to work in WA, the company
needs to go overseas.

STEPHEN ELLICH: Service Stream's primary objective is to employ Australians wherever it's possible
to do so. What we've been trying to do is to advertise to find people. We are finding there is a
shortage of resource coming into our industry which is the telecommunications industry in WA and
yes, we are having to identify alternate sources of resources.

DAVID WEBER: Does that mean going to places like the Philippines?

STEPHEN ELLICH: It does mean looking at the possibility of bringing people in from overseas, that's

DAVID WEBER: Is it the case that Service Stream is going to have to ramp up its activities with the
NBN contract?

STEPHEN ELLICH: The NBN per se is in its early stages for us and it's not presently presenting us
with any issues in resourcing that. The general coverage appears to indicate that the overall
industry will be around 15,000 people short at the peak of the NBN build.

DAVID WEBER: But if there's going to be more work involved with the NBN as it ramps up, won't that
mean that Service Stream will need more people?

STEPHEN ELLICH: Possibly but I suspect that the attractiveness of that work will attract people to
the industry, potentially even from other industries and where possible, we'll engage those people.

DAVID WEBER: The Communication Workers Union believes there are enough qualified people in WA for
the copper wire network.

The branch president, John O'Donnell.

JOHN O'DONNELL: We believe that Service Stream have not exhausted all methods for market testing to
find out whether they can get local employment. We are about to run our own advertising campaign
and are going to go out, rise to the challenge and try and find ourselves a workforce to prove to
Service Stream that there is no need to be looking overseas for, in our opinion, what they are
really looking for are a more compliant workforce, not necessarily a work force as such.

DAVID WEBER: Mr O'Donnell says it should be possible for local people to be trained to work on the
NBN but the Federal Opposition's communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says the NBN won't be
completed without foreign workers.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The same trades and skills that the NBN is seeking to employ are the same ones
that the mining industry and the construction sector for the mining industry are seeking to employ.

This is not a stimulus; this if anything is putting pressure on already constrained resources, both
labour and of course, capital. So the real question here is why would anyone in their right mind
commit to a project of this kind without a cost-benefit analysis.

TONY EASTLEY: The Opposition's communication's spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, speaking to David