Aussie union wants US$0.51m Telstra settlement

In Australia, the Communications Union wants a settlement of AU$1million (US$0.51 million) from Telstra, following a Federal Court finding that its former employment relations manager breached the Workplace Relations Act.

SYDNEY (ZDNet Australia)--The Communications Union wants a settlement of AU$1million (US$0.51 million) from Telstra, following a Federal Court finding that its former employment relations manager breached the Workplace Relations Act.

It’s a far cry from the AU$420 million (US$213 million) Justice Finkelstein indicated the telco heavyweight could be liable for--Finkelstein reserved his judgement on penalties pending written submissions from both the Union and Telstra, which were made yesterday.

“We’d like to see damages of AU$1million (US$0.51 million),” Communications Union organiser Sean Rahui told ZDNet.

Telstra representative Megan Lane laughed when she heard the Union’s submission, but declined to divulge the intricacies of Telstra’s own.

“Any penalty should be nominal, as this was not a flagrant breach of the Act,” Lane said. “We would consider that figure [AU$1million] not to be nominal.”

The Union believes that Telstra should be liable for breaching the Act on 42,500 instances, representing the numbers of workers affected by an email sent by former senior manager Robert Cartwright.

The message, sent to a management team of 275, was found to be in contravention of the Act because it could have been interpreted to mean that staff on Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA) should be treated favourably to those on individual Telstra Awards when redundancy candidates were selected.

“I don’t want to discuss details of the submission,” Lane said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for any of the parties to discuss what its submission might be and have external influences on Justice Finkelstein’s decision.”

It is anticipated that Justice Finkelstein will make a decision about penalties by the end of the month.

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