EPMU prepares Visionstream campaign

01:43, Jul 15 2009
ACTION: Chorus engineers protest in Auckland's Queen St last week against planned working practice changes.

EPMU delegates will meet next Wednesday to plan a campaign on behalf of telecommunications engineers against Visionstream.

The Australian firm recently won a contract from Telecom's fixed-line network arm Chorus from Downer EDI and Transfield Services to install and repair customers' phone lines for the next 10 years in Auckland and Northland.

The hundreds of engineers affected by the change are under pressure to adopt more flexible working practices.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said today union members had roundly rejected the move. He said Visionstream's dependent contractor model would force hundreds of telecommunications technicians to subcontract if they wanted to retain the work. This could cost them up to $60,000 each in equipment costs.

"Unsurprisingly our members don't want to fork out tens of thousands of dollars, lose their job security and take on all the risks associated with the industry just to keep doing the work they do now but with no bargaining power," said Little.

The engineers want to negotiate with Visionstream as a group through the EPMU, little said. EPMU delegates would meet with Visionstream staff soon to discuss the issues.

"Chorus itself has stated it needs these workers because of the skills shortage and yet it is backing a contractor that seems to be doing its best to drive them out of the industry," Little added.

The EPMU represents 45,000 workers including about 1300 in the telecommunications industry.