Optus staff vote for EPA

Optus staff vote for EPA

Optus employees have voted in favour of an Employment Partnership Agreement (EPA) despite concerns from the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) that the offer does not determine wage increases and sick leave clarity.

Last week, Optus employees began voting to win improved wages and conditions through a new agreement the CEPU was trying to make with the telco.

Although there have been some differences between the Optus agreements over the last 10 years, the union claims that the framework of benefits in all those agreements was established by negotiation and agreement with the CEPU in 1991.

In the latest agreement, which will last three years, 75 per cent of employees voted. Of those, 87 per cent supported the offer.

Optus staff began voting on the deal last week when the union said if employees voted in favour of the Optus deal, then the national office of the union had agreed to be bound by the deal.

The Victorian branch of the union pushed for a vote against the deal.

CEPU assistant secretary, Burt Blackburne, said the union believed the offer to employees was unsatisfactory but even more so if you took into account what was being offered to SingTel [Optus parent company] directors .

Blackburne said that at the recent SingTel shareholders meeting there were resolutions to approve increases in directors’ fees for the last year of between 60 and 70 per cent.

The Victorian branch organised an Optus Sux day during which it distributed information about wages and conditions to Optus employees at the Melbourne office.

All Optus employees covered by the proposed Optus Employment Partnership Agreement had a right to vote on the new agreement.

The CEPU has expressed its disappointed that Optus has refused to negotiate a union agreement. However, it has now said it would seek to be bound by that agreement when it comes before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission for certification.

The CEPU argued that a stronger union agreement would provide better benefits to Optus employees, but it conceded that it was important to recognise the positive aspects of the proposed agreement.

CEPU representatives will visit Optus workplaces over the next few months for private meetings with interested members.

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