Thousands of Telstra workers set to walk out on strike today over pay 

4000 Telstra maintenance workers walk off the job as they seek a pay rise – with work on the NBN taking a hit

  • Maintenance workers for Telstra didn’t turn up to work this morning
  • The industrial action will last 24 hours and could affect work on the NBN
  • The union refused Telstra’s pay rise offer, saying it amounted to a pay cut
  • No Triple Zero or medically related services will be affected by the action 

Approximately 4000 Telstra maintenance workers have walked off the job after negotiations over a pay rise broke down. 

The Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (CEPU) decided on industrial action because they say Telstra’s offer to raise workers’ pay by 4.5 percent over three years amounted to a pay cut because it is lower than the current rate of inflation.  

The CEPU said the strike, which is running until midnight, will impact customers seeking service from technicians working on diagnostics, fault repairs, testing, new service installations, and National Broadband Network connections.

However, Triple Zero call centres and emergency services will not be affected by the industrial action.  

Telstra chief executive Andy Penn (pictured) has been told to raise workers’ pay

The CEPU said it initially told staff to take action by refusing to work during ‘unpaid time’, but chose to strike after Telstra threatened to dock workers a day’s pay if they did so.

CEPU Communications Division National President Shane Murphy said said disagreements between Telstra and the union began in May last year.

‘We have been bargaining in the faith that Telstra would understand families are under pressure to stay above the consumer price index (cost of living for households), we believe in a pay increase,’ he said.   

The president said he understood families waiting for NBN connections or fault repairs at their homes are affected, but the enthusiasm of technicians to assist the public was only as good as their treatment by their employee.    

‘The planned action would have seen workers refuse to log-on to Telstra’s job allocation system 30 minutes prior to their paid start time,’ he said. 

‘We were looking at slight bend in work to have an impact on Telstra’s pay, but workers were certainly outraged when they were told they may as well stay home for not logging onto their computers during unpaid time, so we chose to do this (strike),’ he said. 

 In a statement to the Daily Mail Australia, Telstra said CEPU chose to strike during a challenging time for the company, and the legal right to strike is respected. 

Telstra threatened to dock their workers' pay if they followed the union's instructions (file picture)

Telstra threatened to dock their workers’ pay if they followed the union’s instructions (file picture)

 The action only involves CEPU members, who make up around 10% of our total employee base, and it is up to these members to decide if they want to participate in these work bans. Under Fair Work laws, we are not permitted to pay people who are engaging in strike action.’

 This follows Mr Penn’s announcement earlier this year that 8000 jobs would be cut by the telecommunications giant.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a spokesperson for Telstra claimed 56 percent of CEPU members voted for the strike.’