Broadband, Telstra and Poker

The Australian telecommunications sector has been a mess now for almost two decades. Poor decision making by the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments gave Telstra an infrastructure monopoly that stifled competition and innovation. What is almost universally acknowledged is that Telstra should have been separated into an infrastructure company and a retail company, allowing competitors to have the same level of network access as Telstra enjoyed. This seemed an impossible task, Telstra and their shareholders were hostile to the idea and full privatisation had left the government without any meaningful way to wield influence. That all changed last week.
Continue reading “Broadband, Telstra and Poker”

Telstra bosses are bastards

The Sydney Morning Herald summed it up perfectly.

TELSTRA has devised a secret union-busting strategy to save $50 million in labour costs over the next three years – just enough to pay the chief executive, Sol Trujillo, and his senior executive “amigos” for one year.

This type of corporate behaviour is really disgusting, and hiding behind the excuse of ‘The shareholders made me do it’ simply isn’t good enough. I realise that the era of a job for life is long behind us, but I will not accept that this means employees have become nothing more than a cost input, which should be battered down to the lowest possible level.

What’s especially appalling is the enormous growth in senior executive salaries at the same time as this concerted effort is being made to screw everyone else. And let’s not even start on the ‘golden parachutes’ that these bastards receive when it becomes apparent that they can’t do their job properly.

Let’s compare these ‘captains of industry’ with our elected leaders, who also cop a lot of flack when it comes time to negotiate with a big group of employees, like teachers or nurses. In NSW a Senior Minister makes $244,000 a year, a very nice wage, but an incredibly difficult and important job. If you took the Education Minister’s salary and redistributed it, it’d pay for three teachers, plus some change, so it doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable remuneration for the task they are given. Sol Trujillo made $13.4 million dollars last year, that’d buy you 335 Telstra Shop Customer Service people. Personally, I think that’s obscene.

When a minister makes a decision about pay rates for their department they do so knowing that the money has to come from taxpayers, so there is a balancing act between costs and services. When a corporate executive decides to cut staffing costs it’s done purely to increase the amount of money that shareholders, themselves included, receive at dividend time.

So next time you have to deal with a late or surly Telstra employee, give them a break, they’re being screwed by a boss who can’t see the hypocrisy of his own executive remuneration.