The Guardian 17 August, 2005

Telstra’s cash grab

Australia’s largest company is using labour hire firms to try and slash up to $9 an hour out of workers’ pay packets. Hundreds of employees of BDS Recruit, Telstra’s largest labour hire supplier, are considering industrial action in an effort to stave off massive cash grabs.

Last week, the company revealed plans to cut earnings by between $3.30 and $9 an hour. BDS Recruit supplies labour to Telstra for work on its phone network infrastructure, mobile phone tower and broadband service. Telstra was an early and enthusiastic user of Howard government laws that attacked wages and job security.

It introduced thousands of AWAs (individual contracts), sacked tens of thousands of workers, and contracted out thousands more positions to ready itself for John Howard’s promised privatisation.

While its labour hire provider was moving to slash wages, Telstra announced a $4.4 billion profit and confirmed its new American CEO, Sol Trujillo, would pocket more than $11 million a year.

Electrical Trades Union Queensland Secretary, Dick Williams, said it was a foretaste of what would be tried on once the Howard Government titled laws further in employers’ favour.

"It just defies belief that, in the face of irrefutable evidence, the Prime Minister and his supporters continue to say their proposed changes are about higher wages and greater prosperity for working people", Mr Williams said.

BDS employees held meetings and telephone hook-ups around Australia last week.

Back to index page