The NBN achieves the impossible - uniting a union and business together against the Gillard government's ineptitude
Not much benefit for Australians so far Senator Conroy. The telecoms sector looks like joining our ceiling insulation industry in suffering huge financial damage as a direct result of inept government intervention. Remember Kevin Rudd with his notebook out and his sleeves rolled up speaking to representatives from the ceiling insulation industry, destroyed by the Pink Batts debacle?
Union, firms allied over NBN 'disaster'
WEST Australian telecommunications union boss John O'Donnell admits teaming up with more than 100 small-business operators handling the rollout of the $37.4 million National Broadband Network is an unusual alliance.
But it's one he says is a necessity, brought on by alleged gouging by major contractors and woeful prices being offered to mum-and-dad subcontractors that have already sent four of his members into bankruptcy.
Adding to the problems, those sub-contractors have been forced to sign strict confidentiality clauses preventing them from publicly airing their concerns, which is why many are choosing to be represented by the union.
"The whole thing is an industrial relations disaster," said Mr O'Donnell, the branch president of the Communication Workers Union of Western Australia.
"We've had four companies hit the wall already because of their involvement with the NBN.
"Taking on an NBN contract is the fastest way to go broke.
"Despite the many, many requests we have made with the government from all levels of the union trying to get this IR mess cleaned up, almost nothing has happened." A spokesman for the federal Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, said the government expected contractors "to pay fair rates for the work undertaken" but declined to comment further.
Regarding the issue of gagging contractors, the spokesman said it was a "matter for the individual companies involved".