Telstra moves rural servicing goalposts
WITH the cost of petrol and materials spiralling, Mick Hay- den and his mates were not happy when Telstra knocked $25 off the rural service rate. Mr Hayden is an individual sub-contractor with Downer Connect, the engineering com- pany operating the Telco's re- gional contracts. In 2004 he and six others set themselves up as independent contractors, outlaying up to $50,000 for 4WD vehicles, insur- ances and high-tech equipment. The change irking them is that the lower $80 urban rate now applies to work completed within a 30 kilometre radius of their central Sawtell exchange. That means jobs as far away as Brierfield or Gleniffer, out- side Bellingen, are rated as 'ur- ban' because they fall within the 30km linear distance. "They dangled the carrot to get us on board and now they keep moving the goalposts," Mr Hayden said. "Recently Sol Trujillo said the cost of Telstra services would not fall because of rising fuel and copper prices. But we con- tractors are expected to absorb those rising costs, while taking
a pay cut. In three months the cost of copper wire alone has doubled." Downer Connect told sub-con- tractors they were 'striving to resolve the circumstances be-
yond our control'. Branch organiser for the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, Shane Murphy, said the union was having fur- ther meetings with Telstra next
week and pushing for the rein- statement of the previous boundaries for $105 rural rate. No response had been received from Downer Connect or Tel- stra by going to press.