Plan to hire Irish 'Copper Gurus' for NBN labelled a disgrace by union

The Communication Workers Union has slammed plans to bring in copper workers from Ireland to help construct the NBN.

A recruitment firm has come under fire for looking to hire copper joiners from Ireland to work on building the National Broadband Network (NBN).

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(Screenshot: Chris Duckett/ZDNet)

The job ad from OneIRC Australia, which calls the workers "Copper Gurus", said successful applicants would earn AU$75,000 a year for three years, and would be able to either move around Australia, or settle in one place.

According to the advertisement, interviews were conducted in Dublin for these positions last month, and applicants needed three years of experience in working with copper cable jointing.

The Communication Workers Union called for the jobs to go to Australian workers, rather than overseas-sourced workers, and said the move was a disgrace.

"This is Australia's biggest job-creating infrastructure project, and with youth unemployment over 10 percent, we need these job here and now," CWU national secretary Greg Rayner said.

"Today, we've confirmed that the Turnbull government plans to send NBN jobs offshore to Ireland."

However, NBN said it was not responsible for the ads in question.

"NBN has not advertised internationally for roles, but we have advertised locally to encourage Australians to look at work opportunities with our construction companies," an NBN spokesperson said.

"The company has committed to fund skills and training for workers who want to join the industry. The NBN is being built in partnership with the Australian construction industry, which employs the vast majority of those rolling out the network."

Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare on Monday said the move to hire workers to build the NBN from Ireland followed on from job advertisements spotted last month for an NBN copper assurance manager to work in Mumbai.

In Senate Estimates, NBN CEO Bill Morrow said the role was to keep an eye on the Indian outsourcing companies NBN is using.

"They are looking after a service that is being provided by a company called TCS [Tata Consultancy Services]," Morrow said. "They are looking after the contract servicing requirements that's expected from that company."

Morrow would not be drawn on how many employees TCS has dedicated to NBN.

Clare yesterday launched Labor's NBN policy, which would see the end of fibre to the node and as many as 2 million extra premises receive fibre-to-the-premises connections for a capital cost of AU$3.4 billion.

The addition of these new FttP areas would see the network technology make up approximately 39 percent of the network, almost double the number slated under the Coalition.

Total funding for the NBN would be capped at AU$57 billion, with the party stating this cap will have priority over extending FttP to more homes.

"Labor will spend exactly the same amount of public funding on the NBN as the Liberals. There will be no impact on the budget from this announcement," Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said yesterday.

"The public equity contribution will be the same regardless of who wins the election."

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