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 ZDNet.com.au 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 ZDNet.com.au
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.