Telstra workers temporarily working in Queensland to deal with damages caused by flooding rains may have trouble voting on industrial action, according to a union official.
The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) and the Community and Public Sector Union (CSPU) have applied to hold votes amongst their members on whether to hold a strike after negotiations with Telstra to draw up new workplace agreements for its employees failed earlier this year.
The vote, which opened on the same day as Telstra's annual general meeting last week, would only be valid if half of the union members involved respond. If the required number of members voted, a majority of the responses need to be a yes vote for industrial action to go ahead.
Burt Blackburne, divisional assistant secretary of the CEPU said that the union was worried that workers might not vote despite strong feelings on the issue.
"One of our concerns is that in union elections for example we don't get half the membership vote," he said.
The fact that many Telstra workers were interstate fixing damages from Queensland storms would exacerbate that situation, he said, especially if workers had not told their partners to forward on voting forms, which can in any case take days to be sent out to members.
The voting is run by the Australian Electoral Commission and has to be done by post, he said, and any votes which have not arrived on the closing date on 4 December for CPSU and 8 December for CEPU members could not be considered. He urged workers to get their votes in before it was too late.