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Union considering ending Telstra action

Telstra's main union is "actively" considering ending its long-running industrial action against the telco.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Telstra's main union is "actively" considering ending its long-running industrial action against the telco.

Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) national president Ed Husic told ZDNet.com.au yesterday that ending the action was under "active consideration", but stressed that the union would not make a statement until it completes its talks with Telstra.

The union's efforts to date have targeted Telstra's Next Generation Operations unit and its managed wide area network service. Last month the union posted details on its website of clients, which the union claims were impacted by its industrial action.

Clients on that list include the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, insurance company Allianz, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Australia Post, BlueScope Steel, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coles Group, Defence Communications Group, IBM's BHP Billiton Corporate operations, and Woolworths, amongst others.

"We've set another round of discussions with Telstra for Thursday week. I'd imagine Telstra would be interested in having a view from us by then," Len Cooper, Victorian Branch secretary of the CEPU, told ZDNet.com.au.

Asked what Telstra would need to do for the union to call an end to its action, Cooper said: "It might be that Telstra has already done enough to end the action. At the moment, no decision has been taken, therefore the state branches are continuing to put on the action that we had in the pipeline," said Cooper.

While Telstra brought the union back to the negotiating table, meeting with it last Friday to set a schedule for further negotiations, the telco had requested at the meeting for the union to stop its industrial action.

"They put to it in our first talks [last Friday] that we should lift the industrial action. And we put to them that they're saying our efforts are not having any effect," said Cooper. Telstra did not like "the look of" the union continuing its action after it agreed to negotiate with the union, said Cooper.

However, the CEPU still has reservations that while Telstra could comply with the rules of engagement under Labor's new Fair Work Act, it could still revert to the spirit of its current non-union agreement. The Act deals specifically with an employer's obligation to respond to union proposals in a timely and open fashion.

"They could go through good faith bargaining provisions and mainly hold their line on the contents of their non-union package for the union agreement. We have no evidence that they are serious," said Cooper.

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