Telstra workers used as election fodder



MELBOURNE — Seventy Telstra workers rallied outside the Telstra building in the CBD on October 30. The rally was the eighth meeting in Victoria called by the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) to protest against the full sale of Telstra by the federal Coalition government. All the speakers promoted a vote for the ALP as the way to save Telstra and workers' jobs.

Victorian CEPU secretary Len Cooper said the Coalition was determined to sell the rest of Telstra. He also pointed to the poor managerial record of Telstra. He demanded that the Coalition-appointed Telstra board be sacked.

Cooper announced that he and a rank-and-file member will stand as candidates in the Telstra board election on November 15.

Kelvin Thompson, federal Labor shadow assistant treasurer and MP for Wills, declared that a Labor government "will not sell Telstra and will protect workers' jobs". Thompson ignored a heckler in the crowd who demanded to know the ALP's long-term plans for Telstra and why it refused to promise to renationalise the company.

Steven Booth, a CEPU organiser, concluded with a half-hearted round of chants. As the workers' role in the fight to save Telstra jobs appears to be limited to voting for the ALP, it is no surprise that the workers were uninspired to participate in the chanting.

From Green Left Weekly, November 7, 2001.
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