The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has written to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) complaining about the way that Telstra has been conducting employee votes on whether to accept collective agreements.
Unions have been attempting to obtain a union-negotiated, company-wide agreement for Telstra workers, but Telstra ended negotiations with the unions last July.
In August, the company put forward an agreement to staff Telstra's Wholesale and Service Advantage divisions, which was voted down by workers in September. Since then Telstra has put the agreement, which offers 12.5 per cent pay increases and up to 7.5 per cent in performance based bonuses, to smaller groups of employees.
ACTU assistant secretary Tim Lyons said in a letter to the AEC that it believed the ballots held on the agreement were not transparent enough, with no information provided as to how many and what type of employees were included in the votes, when the ballots were and what the final results were. Employees were entitled to these things, Lyons said.
"If electors are unable to discover details of the voting process and scrutiny, obtain a copy of the roll, appoint a scrutineer or obtain a copy of the declared result, it cannot be said that they are fully informed that the process is transparent," Lyons said.
Requests for information or to appoint a scrutineer had in some cases been referred back to Telstra, Lyons said, which he believed to be "absolutely inappropriate".
Telstra is already recognised as offering the
best pay and conditions in
the tele- communications industry
He sought confirmation that any future ballots that the commission conducted would allow employees to have the information they had not been receiving until now.
A Telstra spokesperson said the complaint would be a matter for the AEC. They said that there had been 16 ballots where workers had voted in favour of Telstra's suggested agreement, although they would not specify how many ballots had turned the offer down or the number of people who would now be on the collective agreement.
A spokesperson for the ACTU said that the numbers which have signed could range from 200 to 500 workers, but that there was too little information to know for sure.
The final date to accept the agreement is 31 January. The Telstra spokesperson did not know what would happen after that date.
"Telstra's current Employee Collective Agreement easily exceeds national average increases of 3.9 per cent per year, and Telstra is already recognised as offering the best pay and conditions in the telecommunications industry," the spokesperson said.
Unionised Telstra workers have been striking for a better agreement since December, although Telstra has said the action has had no customer impact to date.
"It should be remembered that union membership at Telstra is only 15 per cent of our employee base and on average, only about 5 per cent of Telstra's call centre consultants are eligible to take action. Most Telstra employees will be at work serving our customers," the spokesperson said.