Time for Telecom to come to its senses

Written By: - Date published: 5:43 am, September 11th, 2009 - 11 comments
Categories: telecommunications, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: ,

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.

11 comments on “Time for Telecom to come to its senses”

  1. lprent 1

    Screwing around with the network is just lunacy. If telecom cannot take care of it, perhaps we should find someone who can.

    Telecom have been slack on upgrades and enhancements for the last 20 years, prefering to give investors excess dividends. Now they are about to lose capacity to do much at all.

    What’s the bet that regardless of the outcome, we’re going to lose techs off shore. Who would want to work directly or indirectly for such a useless company

    • Marty G 1.1

      “What’s the bet that regardless of the outcome, we’re going to lose techs off shore. Who would want to work directly or indirectly for such a useless company”

      Well, Telecom got a few hundred of these engineers in from the Philippines and south africa just last year. apparently, there’s issues over whether the contract work would be enough for them to be allowed to stay under Immigration’s rules. http://tvnz.co.nz/content/2943172

      some ad for nz as a destination for high skill migrants

  2. JohnDee 2

    As of yesterday (Thursday) the First Mobile Vodafone shop in Orewa has been without its land line and i have no doubt that more shops, busness and retail customer are feeling the quality and service of Telecom.

  3. vto 3

    ha ha excellent that the workers are shoving corporate attitude (read lower quality human traits) straight back at them.

    Flex the labour capital like they flex the dollar capital.

  4. Jenny 4

    Time for Telecom to come to its senses?

    I am sure that Telecom think that they well in touch with their senses,

    Because they couldn’t care less about the reliability of the network, their number 1 priority is profit.

    600 unrepaired faults are no skin off their nose, like all private companies they are not run as a public service, but to make profits. But unlike most private companies Telecom’s monopoly position allows them to go to extremes, and they have decided to go for it.

    Telecom are prepared to run the network into the ground, to slash their wages bill. (except the wages of their top exec.s, of course).

    As we should all realise as well as slashing incomes of their engineers, the independent contract model will legally allow Telecom to withhold work from any worker who dares to remain in the union.

    Appealing to their better nature and the welfare of the public is a waste of breath.

    Determined union busting of this ferocity, must be matched by a similar union response of equal determination and ferocity.

  5. rave 5

    Re-nationalise TELECOM under workers control.
    For a TELECOMMUNITY of all consumers and workers.
    No compensation for private monopolist rack renters.
    Share all the work around those who want to work for a living wage.
    Put it all on YouTube.

  6. JD 6

    “Re-nationalise TELECOM under workers control.
    For a TELECOMMUNITY of all consumers and workers.
    No compensation for private monopolist rack renters.
    Share all the work around those who want to work for a living wage.”

    You are aware of which party won the election?

  7. The Voice of Reason 7

    JD: We’re all aware which party won the election. It was Act, in tandem with their support party, National. I’m with Rave on this, and I hope this weekend’s Labour Party conference consider nationalising Telecom as a policy plank for the next election. If the support for these workers is anything to go by, it’ll be a vote winner for the red team.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    Time for Telecom to come to its senses

    No, time for NZ to come to its senses and renationalise the Network. Telecom without compensation because they’ve been screwing us since 1990 and running down the network. The other telecommunications companies can be paid a fair price for their networks.

  9. JD 9

    “The other telecommunications companies can be paid a fair price for their networks.”

    I guess they’ll hope for another Michael Cullen to overpay by hundreds of million of taxpayer for an asset that has a fundamental value of nothing. Toll were laughing all the way to the bank on that deal.

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