July 21, 2006
Broadband ban hits Wellington
A ban on the installation of new broadband connections has spread to Wellington and Horowhenua.
Some 320 telephone technicians who have been involved in a pay dispute for nearly a year are refusing to install new ADSL connections.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that talks this week between the union and the technicians’ employer, Transfield, had failed to settle the dispute.
“The real problem is Telecom,” he said.
“Transfield doesn’t deny that the workers’ claim for a five per cent pay rise and overtime at time-and-a-half is fair, but says it can’t afford it because it’s not getting paid enough by Telecom.”
Mr Little said that Telecom had used its monopoly position to drive pay rates down by pitting contracting companies against each other for work.
“Telephone technicians used to be paid as much as electricians, but now they’re earning about $5 an hour less,” Mr Little said.
“If this situation is not redressed we will lose these skilled workers to other countries and other industries. If Telecom thinks it can continue the way it’s going it’s got another thing coming.”
Talks between the EPMU and Transfield will resume in September.