Telstra has said that it has no immediate plans to resume full work on its pits and ducts in the wake of concern over asbestos handling during remediation work in preparation for the National Broadband Network (NBN).
Telstra last month stopped all remediation work after there was community concern over the way that subcontractors were handling asbestos discovered in the pits and ducts in places such as Penrith and Ballarat.
The company announced that it would retrain all subcontractors in how to properly deal with asbestos, but at the time, CEO David Thodey could not say when work would resume on the remediation of the pits for NBN Co.
Telstra today announced the replacement and repair of pits for the provision of essential services.
"The works will be conducted by licensed removalists, and limited to restoration and repair work associated with incidents such as cable cuts leading to outages, loss of basic services, and emergency and medical priority assistance customers," the company said in a statement.
But a spokesperson for the company told ZDNet that it still has no date for when work will resume.
"We are still working through a range of issues, including training. Obviously, safety remains our number one consideration," a Telstra spokesperson said.
While the work is halted, a number of casual subcontractors are going unpaid. A caller to Triple J's Hack program on Tuesday said he was a contractor working on the pits in Perth, and had been off work for two months despite being a qualified asbestos remover.
Telstra said today that it is working closely with its contractors while the retraining is being conducted for all workers.
"We understand the impact that this is having on subcontractors, and we are working as quickly as possible through the issues, including retraining. Our priority throughout has been to ensure the safety of workers and the community," Telstra said.