Today, 200 Telecom engineers in Auckland and Northland will be fired. Not because there’s no work for them but because Telecom and it’s $7 million CEO want to cut ‘labour costs’ – that’s workers’ incomes, families’ livelihoods to you and me.
Here’s how Telecom’s scam goes. Currently, the engineers are employees of Telecom contractors Transfield and Downer, who are losing the contract on October 1 and, so, are firing them. The new contractor, Visionstream, wants to sign up the workers not as employees but as dependent contractors, who can only work for Visionstream for lower pay, with no guaranteed hours, and forcing them to supply their own equipment. It’s the same engineers doing the work but Telecom reckons it can cut its costs by using this change of contractors ruse to reduce the workers’ pay and conditions.
Telecom’s plan isn’t working. The 470 EPMU engineers are refusing to sign up with Visionstream, even as more of them are made redundant. The result – not enough engineers to maintain the network. There are 600 unrepaired faults in Northland alone right now and the waiting time for repairs has gone from hours or days to weeks. The situation will only get worse from October 1, when all the wages jobs are gone and Visionstream is left responsible for maintaining the network but short hundreds of engineers to do the job.
It doesn’t need to be this way. Telecom and its contractors need to sit down with the workers, offer them fair terms at least equal to what they have now, and let everyone get back to work.
If the bosses continue to be pig-headed, the Government needs to pull them into line. We can’t have the telecommunications network in our largest city jeopardised by some corporate dumb arses trying to screw a bit more profit from the workers.
Update: Got the contractors mixed up, fixed.