none

INDIAN INVITATION HAS A TERMINAL TWIST

29-08-2017
by 
in 
Laurence Marchini

I must admit that one of my bucket list experiences for my retirement is to take a culinary tour of India. However, there is one group of workers who are being given the opportunity to visit that country by their employer. The only problem is that the trip could well lead to their own premature retirement.

The situation has arisen because Ausgrid – the recently privatised electricity network operator that covers a significant area of New South Wales including Sydney, Newcastle and all points in between – has decided to outsource more than a third of the workforce in its Geographic Information System section to Indian multinational Tata Consultancy Services.

What ever we may think about the security implications of offshoring such a strategic information technology function, it’s the way in which the deal is being implemented that is most contentious.

Ausgrid, you see, wants the existing GIS staff to go to India to train the consultants. And, even if those chosen to perform the training are not those being replaced, they will still be laying the groundwork for the “retirement” of their colleagues.

Not surprisingly, the United Services Union and Electrical Trades Union have both imposed a ban on their members being involved in training contractors engaged to replace Ausgrid workers. And that caused Ausgrid to wheel out the legal big guns in an attempt to declare this “unauthorised industrial action”.

The subsequent ruling by the Fair Work Commission that the action was indeed unauthorised has led the unions to rescind their ban.

What makes the whole issue even more complicated is that Ausgrid cannot legally terminate the employment of the workers whose jobs are offshored. This was a key condition imposed by the NSW Parliament in the privatisation agreement. They can merely be given incentives to take voluntary redundancy.

On the one hand we have a commercial operator looking to save operating costs by any means available. On the other hand we have the Trades Union Movement standing up for its members. And the mere fact that the stoush is about offshoring of Australian skilled jobs is sure to generate much debate.

I fear this one will run and run.

Related news & editorials

  1. 27.04.2020
    27.04.2020
    by      In
    COVID-19 has exposed what everybody already knew, but for years was too polite to mention: that much of the first world is over-reliant on supply chains out of China.
    But who could have predicted such a death toll, such a sudden restriction in global trade, such demand for products such as medical... Read More
  2. 25.02.2020
    25.02.2020
    by      In
    It’s one of the most chilling lines from the movies of the 20th century. My namesake and hometown hero Sir Laurence Olivier repeatedly asked Dustin Hoffman “Is it safe?” while torturing him in a dentist’s chair in the movie classic Marathon Man.
    Hoffman’s character’s problem was that he didn’t know... Read More
  3. 12.11.2019
    12.11.2019
    by      In
    Looking at the recently released Safe Work Australia work-related traumatic injuries and fatalities statistics I have become rather alarmed at the prevalence of injuries and fatalities among older workers.
    While the figures, which have just been released for 2018, do show a continual decline in... Read More
  4. 08.10.2019
    08.10.2019
    by      In
    These are strange days in which we live. So many of the great trading nations of the world have begun to “shut up shop” that the accepted global economic paradigms are beginning to have a very hollow ring.
    The post-WWII acceptance that free trade does more to bring nations together and to generate... Read More