Unions go after Telstra investors

Summary:Telstra's unions have decided to approach the telco's institutional investors to put the bad word on Telstra's senior management in the lead up to its annual general meeting.

Telstra's unions have decided to approach the telco's institutional investors to put the bad word on Telstra's senior management in the lead up to its annual general meeting.

Those investors will be receiving requests for meetings from the unions, which seek to talk about their concerns that Telstra management's approach is endangering the success of the company, a view shared by many Telstra employees, according to Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Jeff Lawrence.

"These workers have a long-term stake in the company's success, but are worried by the short term horizons of the current management team," Lawrence said in a statement this afternoon.

Lawrence said that it was the workers' right as shareholders to speak out on their concerns, for example, that the company had rejected relations with unions. Telstra walked out on negotiations with unions for a new employee agreement to replace expiring Australian Workplace Agreements in July, later refusing to deal with the ACTU.

"Management's heavy-handed tactics and disingenuous statements have also put offside the government, regulators, other telecommunications providers, and customers," Lawrence said.

He also expressed concerns that Telstra might walk away from the tender process to build the federal government's national broadband network (NBN), something which had been raised in a statement by a group of shareholders which Telstra was forced to provide to all its shareholders with the notice of its Annual General Meeting.

Other issues raised were that Telstra might be separated on winning the contract, which might lower the value of Telstra shares, and that the regulation of the network would put profits at risk. The authors of the statement did not believe that the long term risks to the company relating to the tender had been sufficiently taken into account.

Telstra Chairman Donald McGauchie addressed the shareholders' concerns in a preface to the statement. "The directors fully recognise the long-term risks associated with the NBN and are committed to an approach that minimises these risks and protects shareholders' investments in the company," he said.

Telstra directed media queries on the issue to McGauchie's communication to shareholders.

Topics: Telcos, Telstra

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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