Telstra didn't turn up to a hearing today by the
Australian Industrial Relations Commission concerning a union
agreement for workers.
On August 28, unions representing Telstra workers put forward an
application to the
AIRC for permission to conduct a secret ballot on whether
Telstra workers would support a union-negotiated collective agreement after Telstra walked out on union talks
in July, and blackballed the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) last
The unions indicated they felt that the workers were too frightened to ask for representation because they believed they would lose
The AIRC held a hearing today to consider the application,
but Telstra didn't show. Although the ACTU could not comment
on the contents of the hearing, it vented its annoyance at the
A spokesperson from the Australian Council of Trade Unions
(ACTU) said the unions looked to the AIRC to mediate based on
a section of the Workplace Relations Act, which states that a person
may apply to the commission to conduct an alternative resolution
process under certain conditions.
Under this section of the legislation, however, the commission had no
power to compel a party to do anything, or make an order in
relation to the matter, meaning that Telstra could not be forced to
attend the hearing and would need to agree to the ballot if it were
to go ahead.
"Telstra's management has shown contempt for both the
AIRC and its workforce by not
turning up today," ACTU assistant secretary Chris Walton said in a
statement after the hearing.
"We can only conclude that by its point blank refusal to
contemplate a ballot, Telstra is afraid of what the result would
tell it: the vast majority of workers don't trust management and
want to be represented by a union," he continued.
Telstra, however, didn't feel the application was valid. "This
is just another stunt from the unions as there is no basis or
jurisdiction for the application," a spokesperson said.
"Telstra has advised the commission that, as there is no basis
or jurisdiction for the application, we will not be going along
with the unions' stunt and wasting the commission's time," they