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Union Approval?

(This line of questioning should really have been challenged. MV was a union delegate and unless the CPSU had objected he was entitled to expression on behalf of his workplace members)

Gardiner You have confirmed Mr. Vogt that this newsletter is your newsletter, have you not?

You have confirmed Mr. Vogt that this newsletter is your newsletter, have you not?

MV Yes Well you say mine, it is the union's newsletter. If you are trying to trick me or trap me - No - Yes I produce it, it is not my newsletter, it is the newsletter of my members.

Gardiner You make clear that it does not necessarily reflect the views of the sub-delegate committee ?

MV That is a disclaimer. Yes but "not necessarily"

Gardiner That is because they did not approve it did they ?

Gardiner That is because they did not approve it did they ?

MV It has not been officially approved by the SDC Copies have always been sent to them and distributed to them, sometimes they have distributed them.



Gardiner Is it the case in fact that the SDC requested to sight each newsletter before its release but you never facilitated this, did you?

MV That is not true. I do have, if you wish, documentation where the newsletters were actually sent to, were faxed, and I have the faxes, or some of them, I don’t have all of them , where they were faxed to the head office, to if my memory serves me correctly, Jack Drexler who was then the industrial officer, To Michael Watt who became the Industrial Officer to ---

CHAIR Before they were published or later?

MV Before they were distributed. When you say published, they’d been produced obviously

CHAIR They had been produced but they had not been distributed?

MV They hadn’t been distributed at that time, indeed I’d ask for any articles that head office had too – if they wished to comment. Obviously I didn’t get a reply but – OK so I went ahead. (This line of questioning by the chair is interesting, especially in view of what was stated in the DAB decision. I had tacit approval as there had been no objection voiced by the CPSU)

Gardiner The CPSU has never provided formal approval of this publication has it?

MV It has – within the rules there is nothing to prevent me from doing so.

Wraight Again, I object to this line of questioning because what goers on between the delegate and the union, quite frankly, is not the business of Telstra (Yippee)

CHAIR But it depends if it is being said that the newsletter is being issued by you personally as a delegate or you effectively on behalf of the union. (?????? As a delegate , full stop)

MV Its as a delegate on behalf of my members, as I had said to the management.

CHAIR Not on behalf of the union though – there is a subtle difference ?

MV It’s a grey area, yes. Can I perhaps elucidate, that the union is a bottom up organization, not a top down like Telstra.

CHAIR But what is the union’s – does the union have an official view in respect of the newsletter that has been advised to you?

MV The union has at its conference, to which I am a delegate, passed a motion supporting my right ot publish.

CHAIR As an individual or as a union delegate.

MV Can’t remember the actual wording

CHAIR I note we have Mr Cooper sitting in the back there, is Mr Cooper able to assist the Board on just what is the status of this newsletter (oops wrong union, wrong union leader. It would appear that the chair is taking the role of a Telstra advocate rather than an impartial chair or are we returning to Roman Law ??) What about you ?

Mufatti the resolution on this matter is that the union’s branch conference endorses the right of Mervyn Vogt to distribute the newsletter expressing his own views.

Gardiner I have not seen that, when was it made, and –

CHAIR What date? (so much for independent chairing)


Mufatti Certainly the union and what is happening here is not what is being discussed, what is being discussed is three charges, I think now, against one of our members and I am very concerned about the line the questioning seems to be going in where ----

CHAIR I will tell you what I am concerned about --- there is a charge

Mufatti We seem to be going into what is union business

CHAIR I am not interested in Union business

Mufatti Well good

CHAIR I am not interested in Telstra business either, what I am concerned about is the charge which is talking about conflict of interest. …….. Because I have some concern about the relationship to- one he is a union delegate and therefore there is certain roles that relate to that. In some instances you can have a union delegate who oversteps the mark as a union delegate and then is in conflict with the company. (when there is any dispute on pay or conditions the delegate is highly likely to be in conflict, it is inherent in the role and the system in Australia) In other instances they are not and to that extent, this newsletter, the approval or non approval or the relationship of the newsletter to the union and the union’s attitude to it does affect Mr Vogt’s role and the right to distribute and from whether or not he is sort of doing so really as a union delegate or in a personal capacity as an employee where he has overstepped that mark and could be said to be in conflict. It is a very fine line and that is where the question is going.

Mufatti Well I think you know, our view is what I have just said, and the union has an official vieew that he has the right to publish the newsletter expressing his personal-----

CHAIR As an individual though or as a delegate

Mufatti Expressing his individual views. We also as you have go evidence of, we expect our delegates to communicate with their members.

MV And the union has been aware

Mufatti I mean the other question you may have sort of raised there was, you know, how does the union deal with its own internal matters and that is not a case of – or an issue in this arena and it is certainly not an issue I am prepared to discuss in this arena.

CHAIR That is not what I am interest in.


CHAIR It may never have been considered at the relevant time by the union? …………

Mufatti And that is propbably the truth of the matter, that it was not an issue until Telstra made it an issue and sought to interfere in the union’s internal workings basically.


CHAIR Mr. Vogt, are you – can you clarify for me the capacity in which you say the newsletter is being issued? – in terms of authorship – how do you view the distribution of the newsletter? Is it by you as an individual employee?



MV I view it as having been instructed by my members to perform a duty which I now perform. I have to verify this because I’ve always felt I need to. It has now been verified four times by those meetings unanimously – well without dissent.

CHAIR So are you saying that you see it as being issued in your official capacity as a delegate?

MV Yes clearly

Chair And then you take that back one step and say When I was appointed as a delegate, I was given information which indicated I was also to publish matters

MV Yes

CHAIR Or distribute information, and you link it in with that ? (these are the words of the chair herself. In view of the DAB decision remarkable)

bulletAt this point it might be pointed out that on his return to the workplace almost all the non management staff who were union members changed to the CEPU as a result of their perception of the treatment by the CPSU.
bulletSpecial mention should be made of the loyalty of the staff members in particular of Sunny Acreman ( called the gossamer warrior) who loyally attended every session, and gave evidence on my behalf. To Sue Kurpis who was bullied by management to the point of illness, and still persisted in very vocal support, when denied the ability to put notices of dates of the hearings on notice boards pinned the notices to her clothing so all would know. To Val Butler who also gave evidence for me and attended every hearing. Also to members of Public First who attended and supported and to the Civil Liberties Union for their support. 

Mervyn was on the stand in total for more than a day, and there are more than 300 pages of transcript. At this stage there has probably been sufficient to give an idea of the issues and the thinking involved. The rest of the transcript will be provided at a later date or on request.




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Last modified: August 01, 2010

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