May 14, 2008
Broadband workers take protest to Telecom
Broadband technicians will be converging on Telecom's main offices in Auckland and Christchurch today to protest the company's failure to provide the money needed for a decent pay rise.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union members work for one of Telecom's biggest contractors, Downer EDI, and are facing a pay offer that is less than inflation due to Telecom's refusal to properly resource its contractors.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says Telecom has used its dominant position to push down costs to the detriment of workers across the industry.
"Telecom's been playing its contractors off against each other for years to the point where there now isn't money available to pay broadband workers a fair rate, which is particularly galling for them when their skills are in high demand internationally and they can get fifty percent more just by crossing the ditch.
"At a time when massive rollout of fibre optic infrastructure is likely and when there's a huge shortage of people with the skills to do such a task it seems extremely short-sighted, if not irresponsible, of Telecom to continue to under-invest in a skilled workforce.
"We've heard a lot about Telecom's commitment to high-speed broadband but until they start putting up the money to ensure New Zealand can keep and attract the workers needed to roll broadband out this commitment is unlikely to be kept and that will be a tragedy for New Zealand's economy."
The EPMU represents 50,000 New Zealand workers across 11 industries including 6000 in the telecommunications and electrical industry.