Striking Optus workers reject proposal

Summary:Striking sub-contractors working for Optus contractors BSA and Stream Communications today rejected a proposal to come back to work.

Striking sub-contractors working for Optus contractors BSA and Stream Communications today rejected a proposal to come back to work.

Last Wednesday, Stream Communications received a list of claims from sub-contractors which focused on rate and procedural issues, according to Stream managing director Don Muirhead, who spoke to ZDNet.com.au this afternoon about the issue.

The executive said that the company acknowledged and looked at the list on Thursday, but the majority of its sub-contractors went on strike on Friday, refusing to carry out any installations or maintenance they would normally do for Optus customers.

No one has a bag of gold here.

Stream MD Don Muirhead

This morning, as far as Muirhead knew — he wasn't at the meeting where negotiations took place — a forum of contractors working for both BSA and Stream Communications rejected a proposal to come back to work. The strike was based in NSW, he said, but added that it made no sense for the other states to strike because they were already watching the issue with interest, and any deal which was struck would be national.

"We're trying to get our contractors to get back to work with the commitment that we'll talk to suppliers and our client about the issues that were raised," Muirhead said. Stream was meeting daily with representatives from the contractors to quash rumours through good communications and to work through the list of claims to find a blend which fitted, he said.

However, finding the right solution would take time, while Optus' customers were getting frustrated and no money was flowing into anyone's coffers, according to Muirhead.

"I think it's in their best interest to come back to work," he said. "It's not helping anybody that these guys aren't getting any revenue coming up to Christmas ... No one has a bag of gold here."

Stream Communications and BSA were required under contract to provide services to Optus, according to Muirhead, and if the companies could not do that, Optus would find others who would. "It's been the history of the industry that if any group withdraws services, others are asked to come in," he said.

He asked contractors to come back to work so that a satisfactory answer could be found. "The point has been made," he said. "Give us some time."

Topics: Telcos, IT Employment, Optus

About

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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