Telco staff want collective contracts: union

Telecommunications staff are demanding collective union agreements, but their bosses don't appear to be keen.

Telecommunications staff are demanding collective union agreements, but their bosses appear to be less keen.

The EPMU, the union for many IT and telecomms workers, says Telecom staff are meeting to draw up collective agreements and workers at Telecom contractor GDC Communications have also issued notice for a collective.

But both firms say only a few workers want such union agreements.

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says around 300 Telecom technicians are affected, but matters were complicated over them being seconded to Downer Connect, who is acting as the employer. “But they are legally employed by Telecom,” says Little.

Some Telecom staff are union members, but there are no collective agreements at Telecom, though Little expects “progress” over this issue within a few weeks.

The Employment Relations Act says firms must negotiate with workers and recognise unions if they want them.

However, Telecom spokesman Glen Sowry says while unions have been granted access to the company there is no indication staff want a collective agreement. “No employees have approached any manager asking for a collective, or to initiate the process. No union has approached Telecom wishing to initiate the process,” he says.

Telecom staff are on individual contracts. The company prefers this to maintain flexibility and believes “one-to-one” relationships between workers and managers “works best”, Sowry says.

At GDC, the union is canvassing contractors about collective agreements.

EPMU telecommunications industry spokesman Dave Munro says GDC’s New Plymouth have issued notice for a collective, which they want extended to all GDC workers.

“They’re fed up, and want a proper, negotiated, collective agreement,” he told the EPMU newsletter this month.

GDC is based in Auckland, but has branches in Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Christchurch.

Its managing director Paul Honnor says he has “no view” over collective agreements.

“One or two may be interested, but I don’t think the workers are. Four to five people have indicated that they wanted a union to talk for them, but they haven’t spoken to me about it,” he says.

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