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Strike is hurting Telstra

A Telstra management presentation seen by ZDNet.com.au showed this week that Telstra has been feeling the effects of industrial action, despite the telco denying the union moves were having any effect on customers.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor on

A Telstra management presentation seen by ZDNet.com.au showed this week that Telstra has been feeling the effects of industrial action, despite the telco denying the union moves were having any effect on customers.

(On Strike image by Seth Anderson, CC2.0)

The presentation, a regular briefing on service and facility operations, was dated Friday 13 March 2009. It said that the industrial action had overwhelmed global network operations alarm monitoring staff.

Because of this, network services withdrew a number of planned upgrades called APECs or Approved Planned Event Coordinations, which caused more chaos for the telco.

"In many cases, service delivery field staff have been assigned to attend sites in the middle of the night only to discover that they had not been notified of the withdrawal of the APEC. They were then on lost time next day for nothing due to Stand Down time," the report noted.

Telstra had moved to battle this problem, however, putting in new procedures for the change management team to review withdrawals and make sure that communications technicians were notified of the withdrawals.

Despite showing the telco acted on its problems, the presentation has shown that Telstra's operations are being affected by industrial action. When the telecommunications company has previously commented on action, it has pointed out that only 15 per cent of its employees were members of a union and has downplayed any effects of the action.

When asked for comment on the issue, Telstra said only that it hadn't seen the document and that the action was having "almost zero impact" on the business.

The unions began to strike in December last year. Earlier in that year, the unions had been negotiating with Telstra, hoping to create a new union agreement for employees whose Australian Workplace Agreements were coming to an end. These negotiations fell apart, however, and after attempting to approach the situation via the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and having no luck, the unions put a vote to its members on whether they wanted to strike.

The members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike and small units of employees have been walking off the job or refusing to do overtime or take call backs.

Coverage in the strike has died down in the media, but the unions have been adamant that this has not meant that the strike has had no effect.

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