Telstra kicks off "witch hunt" over leak: Union

Telstra has begun a "witch hunt" to find the staff member responsible for leaking a draft report on the maintenance and operation of its mobile base stations last July, according to the communications union, the CEPU.The union said it accompanied the first Telstra worker to be questioned in the "disciplinary investigations" last Friday, as Victorian secretary of the communications union, Len Cooper, said the telecommunications heavyweight seems to be "following some sort of trail".

Telstra has begun a "witch hunt" to find the staff member responsible for leaking a draft report on the maintenance and operation of its mobile base stations last July, according to the communications union, the CEPU.

The union said it accompanied the first Telstra worker to be questioned in the "disciplinary investigations" last Friday, as Victorian secretary of the communications union, Len Cooper, said the telecommunications heavyweight seems to be "following some sort of trail".

"They just started last week and from the line of questioning they seem to be tracing it back. But the [leaked] report was on the Telstra intranet meaning all the staff had access to it, so where the trail can lead one can only guess," Cooper told ZDNet Australia  today.

According to CEPU the report "embarrassed the senior management and the Howard government" with descriptions of problems in the Telstra mobile network throughout Australia, and gave "evidence of inadequate mobile technician staff training and lack of maintenance".

The report was made public by shadow minister for communications Lindsay Tanner on 28 July.

Tanner said the report also gave evidence that "during peak times in February 2004 mobile base station cell outage was substantially above Telstra's target levels for its GSM mobile network" with a similar result for its CDMA network.

A media release issued by the shadow minister quoted the report as stating "proactive field testing is no longer conducted", which Tanner said "means that Telstra may no longer be servicing its mobile network but rather just waiting for it to break down before repairs are undertaken".

"The draft report also states that customer generated complaints receive low priority and are not actioned properly. Many customers who have dealt with Telstra customer service will be familiar with this problem," Tanner said.

According to Cooper, the investigation can rightly be called a "witch hunt" as he said "if the results of this report had come out positive there would have been no need for secrecy, Ziggy Switkowski [Telstra CEO] would have hand delivered it to the Prime Minister himself".

CEPU said the staff member responsible for the leak "provided a real service to the public" by exposing the truth behind the supposed "high quality Telstra services standards".

"They should be given a medal, not be the subject of a management driven 'witch hunt'," said Cooper. "The public has a right to know if the politicians and public officials are deceiving them."

Telstra has admitted that one employee was interviewed in relation to the leak. However, a spokesperson for the carrier stated "there is no witch hunt".

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