Thousands of Telstra and Chemist Warehouse workers are expected to strike today over wage increases.
Telstra’s protected action began at 12am this morning and is expected to continue until 11.59pm tonight. However, services in Triple 0 call centres and other emergency areas won’t be impacted.
Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (CEPU) state secretary Shane Murphy told news.com.au the strike would mostly impact NBN and broadband installation as well as the maintenance of phone and mobile services. It may also impact some retail stores if the workers were part of the union.
Telstra is offering workers a pay rise of 4.5 per cent over three years, which equates to 1.5 per cent a year. The is arguing this is a pay cut because it is lower than the current rate of inflation.
The union had originally suggested workers down tools during “unpaid time”, such as refusing to log on to Telstra’s job allocation system half an hour ahead of their paid start time.
But Telstra told employees it would dock them for an entire day’s pay if they did this.
“Telstra has displayed utter contempt for you and your rights to fight for what you deserve,” a union notice stated.
The union has now advised workers to undertake a full strike on Tuesday.
Meanwhile about 100 Chemist Warehouse distribution centre workers in Victoria and Queensland are also on indefinite strike over their wages and conditions.
National Union of Workers is arguing that workers are being underpaid by about 25 per cent. It says workers at competing businesses doing a similar job are paid closer to $30 an hour, while Chemist Warehouse workers are paid about $23-$24.
It also wants more job security for workers with about 75 per cent hired as casuals. They want these jobs to be converted into permanent positions.
The union believes there is a culture of sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation and also wants this cleaned up.
“This is a David and Goliath struggle. It is a struggle between haves and have-nots. Worker’s wages are declining while wealth and power continues to grow at the top end of town,” National Workers Union national secretary Tim Kennedy said.
“This is a matter of justice for these workers. Chemist Warehouse should agree to threat their workers with respect and pay wages and conditions that meet the industry standard.”