March 17, 2008
Wage talks breakdown bad for Telecom broadband network
Bargaining between members of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and Telecom contractor Downer Engineering broke down on Friday.
The breakdown came after the telco advised it did not have the margins to meet reasonable pay claims and bodes badly for Telecom’s new network management company, Chorus.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says the situation shows how contracting out arrangements in the telecoms sector are being used to drive down wages at the very time we have a skills shortage and need to lift wages to remain competitive.
“This is not just about Downer. It’s also about Telecom and they need to understand that if they want skilled local technicians maintaining their network they need to front up with realistic contract pricing.
“This work is vital to New Zealand’s economic wellbeing but the workers who are needed to roll it out are being paid up to fifty percent less than they would be in Australia. That’s not going to help us develop a modern broadband network and will harm New Zealand business.
“If Telecom is serious about Chorus working to achieve the kind of broadband capacity we need to be internationally competitive they’ll increase their funding to ensure we keep the skilled and experienced workers we need to do it.”
Workers at Downer will be meeting around the country over the next month to discuss the current situation and vote on their next move.