A "significant" new award covering pay and conditions for up to 10,000 telecom workers has been issued by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. It is the first time an award has been made specifically for the telecommunications industry.
The deal has been hammered out by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), the Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing, and Allied Services Union (CEPU) and the Australian Industry Group (AiG) over the past two years. Effective from November 22, it covers working hours, minimum rates of pay, leave, allowances and superannuation for a wide range of workers including IT, technical, call centre and administration staff.
"There have only been a handful of industry awards during the past 20 years, so that is significant in itself," said Stephen Jones, communications division secretary for the CPSU.
"It is important the skills these people have are recognised and portable because in this industry it is education and training that deliver better products and services for customers, and better wages and careers for employees."
Telstra and Optus have long-standing agreements in place for their workers but the new award covers other telcos such as AAPT, AOL, Hutchison, OzEmail, Primus and Vodafone. The unions expect many other telcos will be subject to union applications to become bound by the award.
"There was a lot of resistance from employers but in the end they've decided to negotiate," said Ian Bryant, division industrial officer for the CEPU.
"These employees [covered by the award] will now have properly set wages and conditions as well as getting skills recognised and rewarded through training."