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Collective punishment: Telstra outages to hit staff bonuses

Network problems, particularly a series of outages in the first half of this calendar year, are set to hit staff bonuses at Telstra according to CEO Andy Penn. 

In an internal letter to staff, Penn has warned that a likely fall in customer satisfactions measures will mean that “it is likely that all of us eligible for the Telstra or Network Services Business Unit short-term incentive or annual bonus schemes will not receive the NPS-based component of our plans.” 

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a favourite metric of Telstra’s which measures customer satisfaction in terms of willingness to recommend a company to others. And right now, unsurprisingly, Telstra’s NPS is not travelling too well. It is unlikely, Penn says, to reach its full year target of + 12. 

But our members are certainly not responsible for the senior executives’ decisions that cause customers to rate Telstra poorly. 

If Telstra management fails to invest sufficiently in its networks, why should Telstra staff, who have no control over investment decisions, take a hit? 

Or what if a contractor carrying out a procedure on the Telstra network makes a mistake and services go down? Was it Telstra staff who made the decision to contract out that work? 

Ah, but that’s not all there is to it says Penn. “While there is no doubt our advocacy efforts have been challenged in recent months by network interruptions, it is also clear we continue to be held back by some ongoing systemic customer service issues.” 

Like cut backs in field staff, for instance, that leave Telstra short any time there is a spell of nasty weather such as recently occurred in NSW. That’s not good for customer satisfaction either –but whose fault is that? 

Collective punishment is a breach of the Geneva Conventions. Telstra staff should not be disadvantaged as the result of decisions over which they have no control. This surely must be a fundamental principal of any bonus scheme. 

The CWU supports the senior executives’ bearing the responsibilities for Telstra’s ongoing network failures including through limiting their bonuses - or not paying them bonuses at all.  But in the union’s view, such problems should not affect the bonuses of the workers.

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