Trujillo cops banks' heat over strikes

Trujillo cops banks' heat over strikes

Summary: Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo has been called in to settle complaints by CommBank and NAB that industrial action at the telco has threatened key transactional systems, the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) claimed this afternoon.


update Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo has been called in to settle complaints by CommBank and NAB that industrial action at the telco has threatened key transactional systems, the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) claimed this afternoon.



Assistant CEPU secretary Burt Blackburne today said that Trujillo had been called upon to address complaints by the two banks.

"Current and previous industrial action is creating problems for Telstra. There have been customer complaints from the NAB and Commonwealth Bank," Blackburne told by email.

Today's statement by the CEPU follows claims by Telstra last week that the industrial action by the union had had little effect on Telstra or its customers.

Late yesterday, Telstra denied that the strike was having such a marked effect on customers, saying the truth was that industrial action has had almost zero customer impact. "Any claims that industrial action has had an impact on Telstra's EFTPOS services are totally inaccurate and unfounded," a spokesperson for the company told

However, CEPU's Blackburne said that Telstra had now called upon Trujillo to step in and reassure customers due to the level of complaints and importance of those customers.

A spokesperson for CommBank said that it was working with Telstra towards finding a solution, "as are all the banks". A spokesperson for NAB, however, said the bank was not aware of any concerns to the underlying carriage that supported its EFTPOS networks. "ANZ is not aware of any current disruption related to any Telstra service," an ANZ spokesperson said after this article was initially published.

There have been customer complaints from the NAB and Commonwealth Bank

CEPU assistant secretary Burt Blackburne

The complaints, according to CEPU's Blackburne, were due to delays on maintenance to Telstra's Argent service — a key system which handles a range of transactions, including EFTPOS between merchants and banks. Argent sits within Telstra's Next Generation Operations (NGO) centre, which had been targeted for work stoppages last Thursday.

"Backlogs of work just keep building up and targets are now blowing daily," said Blackburne.

"The Telstra workforce management area are reporting that the activation area of NGO has been in chaos since the industrial action began before Christmas."

Despite efforts to lure workers into completing maintenance work, such as offering continuous overtime, it has had little effect in progressing maintenance work, said Blackburne. "In just the week since the 21st of January the backlog of work has jumped by 34.8 per cent," he said.

The spokesperson for Telstra stressed that the action had involved a very small number of employees: less than 20 on the weekend and only around 35 at any one time during the week.

"It should be remembered that union membership at Telstra is only 15 per cent of our employee base," the spokesperson said.

Westpac and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group were unable to comment at the time of writing.

Topics: Telcos, Banking, Telstra, IT Employment

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at 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 the site.

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  • Telstra going backwards

    Don't know about the banks, but I have been a Telstra customer and fanboi, who has supported Telstra and been willing to pay a little more to get a little more, particularly in relation to support.

    However, my son bought a Telstra hiptop about 3 weeks ago and applied for direct debit/easy pay payment, which was due to be debited yesterday, well after the up to 14 days they said registration would take.

    But no money came out to pay the bill, because it can take up to 3 days. Great you may say but he is now overdue.

    Wanting to do the right thing and make sure all was good in relation to easy pay and not wanting to get a bad credit rating at his first attempt, he and I have now tried 4 times today alone, to call billing services to see what is happening, only to go through all the prompts and after doing so we are told by a recorded voice, due to the unforeseen amount of people accessing this easy pay line we cannot currently take your call, please call back later - beep beep beep.

    The call (in fact all 4 calls) abruptly ended. We were simply hung up on? So much for premium dollars for premium product.
  • Resign

  • Typical

    Telstra is reaping what it has sown. It is under pressure on all fronts and the state of the economy will only put its 'premium' service (consumer and business) under considerable pressure as customers rationalise spending. Telstra charges up to 40% premium for enterprise data and companies will now have to look long and hard at whether they can justify paying through the nose for Telstra services. This story is indicative of Telstra's disregard for its customers. No company treats its customers, employees and suppliers worse than Telstra. It has been a very long time since I have heard any of these constituencies talk about Telstra is anything but an extremely negative light (with the exception of Sydney Lawrence).
  • Get a little More..

    I still fail to understand how people believe they are paying that little bit extra for the 'customer service'.

    During my time at Telstra, it was not uncommon to see pages upon pages of notes for customers trying to get their service up and running (broadband).

    Customer Service is not a cash cow to Telstra, it is an expense. And it is treated with the same disdain that you and I treat our rate expenses!

    In the same building, you have sales and techsupport. Tech support is a drab and dreary floor, with the oldest computers on the block. Sales is pumping, with shiney new work stations.

    If you think you are paying that little bit extra for 'great customer service' , you are wrong - as Steve has found out....
  • @Typical

    Never happened while the Liberals were in power, because unlike the Ruddites, they never bared their backsides to the unions.
  • @@Typical

    Nothing happened while the Liberals were in power, except 'stagnation of a nation'.

    Feel free to use that as your next Liberal campaign slogan.
  • The Truth about Telstra & Governments.

    Libs & Telstra lawyers used the company employees as lab rats for the IR law that Mr Howard has been keen on for decades. Also the people of Australia loss aleast $1 Billion in taxes when privatized, so where does that money come from? Us!!! As most of it goes overseas.
    The day to day harassment that Telstra employees put up with for the last 12 years.
    The employees just want to do the job & provide customer service that Telstra was renouned for.
    Customer service is a thing of the past & you can thank Frank Blount, Ziggy & now Sol.
    The philosophy within the Telstra Management is that the systems are set up for management areas to meet targets, but no customer service. On paper everything seems to be working to process & procedures, but in reality all they are doing is hand balling incidents from one work to another. So each business unit gets a pat on the back & managers get their bouses!!!

    This is just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on about other things that happens in this company, but people who don't work in it all know people you would understand the lenghts Telstra will go to to get their way & they do not care who the bulldoze through to get there.
    And that my friends is the way Telstra operates & they WILL manipulate anything & anyone to get what they want!!
  • Sydley Lawrence

    The fact is that Sydley is just a front-person for Telstra who attempts with minimal success to alter the readers perceptions about Telstra with the odd disagreement & factless information to support his rhetoric. The truth rears its ugly head whenever reality is brought into the picture though that doesn't stop Sydley from disagreeing.

    He continually stands by to rebuff any negative statements about Trujillo who was proven a charlatan at the two previous positions as CEO in the states where he demolished two independant telecommunications companies. A reveal was televised by one of our countries' free-to-air stations but unfortunately I can't remember which. I also can't be bothered chasing it up so if you want to disprove me check it out, if you dare.

    Ah Sydley, the voice of a reason, NOT!
  • The Unions!

    I come from a unionist town & bcoz of this I refused to join the union. I'm also not in a position where a union would tend to be that helpful to me. Just the same for those who need that protection, a union is a good thing.

    As a business owner you may not like it but not only do unions force the worker's rights on the business but they also force the workers to have the right safety knowledge, the right skills for the job & enforces the proper breaks which reduces injuries. Unions aren't all good but they're also not all bad.

    Telstra used to be a grand company to work for when I did but the stories by a friend of mine regarding the current work state make Telstra one of the scum corporates in Oz. Telstra will lose the current union war because their place in this is purely abuse of workers' rights.

    Sol, you will lose this one because you aren't in America for this fight.
  • @@@Typical

    I had a good job while the Libs were in power, and now I don't. I suppose you will think that's funny.
  • @@@@Typical

    could it be that you just weren't a good performer in your job. you cant blame a whole government just because you lost your job... others didnt.
  • well said

    the unions are only part of the picture... you cant live with them and you cant live without them. but in this case, Telstra will do anything to strip workers right so we need the union to keep telstra in check. thats all its about. its not about bleeding the company dry and asking for huge payrises and so on... its about getting what we deserve after all the times telstra has tried to rip us off
  • re "The Truth about Telstra & Governments."

    "And that my friends is the way Telstra operates & they WILL manipulate anything & anyone to get what they want!"

    Are you, the Union representative at Telstra ?
  • Quite a bit more

    Last week it appears Telstra decided to a little maintenance in my area.
    Both my incoming lines & ADSL were cut off without notice for over 24 hours as well as everyone else along our street. Then everyone's phone line/number in our area was switched to someone else's at random. I now had the local panel-beaters line & they were running up calls on one of my lines. My neighbour was connected to someone's fax line, etc.
    Only experienced a 30 minute outage so far today...we certainly get their 'little extras' here as per usual!
  • re "guy above me"

    Lol, no, i daresay he's experienced the inside of telstra, you dont have to be union to get mistreated by telstra, they just single you out if you are union, tis all...
  • @@@@@Typical

    You must be living in a different country mate, if you think Imm the only one who has lost my job lately. So maybe I will try for a job at Telstra, cos you obviously hated working there, and I wouldn't have to be too intelligent by the sound of it. Even a bad job is better than no job, but I guess you lot would much prefer the dole.
  • Go Telstra and Go Australia.

    Rex Alfie how I miss my occasional verbal joist with you. Sad fact is the cost of Internet on on the Queen Mary is 80c per minute and speed Very slow. Will catch up soon when I am able to access the fabulous (and cheap) Telstra service. We have had phone service on mobile around South America while most other serrvices have failed. Syd. Lima. Peru.
  • rofl

    you certainly research before insulting dont you anon, I dont even have a job atm, so why yes, of course, i am in a union, you know just for the fun of it, wheeeeee unions are fun, we go to the amusement park, and then, then, we all go to the movies and watch winnie the pooh and other, other cartoons and if we've all been good we go out for... ICECREAM!!! weeeeee!

  • Telstra a must for NBN..Treasury!!

    Go the 3 Amigoes....going by all the Anti Telstra bashing from the Anti Telstra brigade shows they must have got it right!!

    Lets see if Krudd/Conroy have the balls to back up Treasuries call that Telstra is best placed to get us out of Fin crisis regarding the NBN!!
  • re Telstra a must for NBN..Treasury!!

    That would appear to make reasonable common sense, but common sense does not seem to apply with these pollies, who continue to play their game of cumuppance with Telstra, and vice versa. But I cannot see Conroy having the guts to heed Treasuries advice. That would cause far too much howling, from the Anti Tesltra brigade.