NBN contractor leaves mess of cables through 80yo woman’s home after installation
16th June 2017
Unions say contractors working for the National Broadband Network are taking shortcuts on in-home installations, blaming low pay and pressure on the workers to complete jobs quickly.
An 80-year-old Sydney woman feels she has been misled after her NBN installation involved running a cable along her hallway, creating a trip hazard.
Margaret Crook said she felt pressured by the contractor to sign off on the job.
“By this time I was very, very upset and he said to me ‘that’s the way it’s got to be’, and the cords were just left there. It was just an absolute mess,” Ms Crook said.
It was not until her daughter Katrina Crook spent hours on the phone to Telstra and sent a complaint to the NBN that an area supervisor was sent out.
“I really had to strongly advise them that the situation was a matter of safety,” Katrina Crook said.
Katrina Crook said her mother could not make or receive phone calls after the NBN was installed, raising further safety fears.
NBN contractors have now returned to Margaret Crook’s home to remediate the work.
Unions blame low pay and time pressures for ‘shortcuts’
David Mier from the Electrical Trades Union said Ms Crook’s case was not a one-off.
He said low pay and pressure on workers to complete jobs quickly was forcing them to make shortcuts on in-home installations.
“Jobs are done in a shoddy manner. This is clearly a problem and unless the contractors are given adequate funds to do the work, there’ll be shortcuts taken,” Mr Mier said.
Shane Murphy from the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union said pressure to complete jobs quickly was leading to poor-quality work.
“There are all sorts of different things that have occurred and have been reported to us. And it’s no fault of the contractor,” Mr Murphy said.
“They’ve come from outside the industry and then they haven’t been provided with adequate training.”
‘Few’ complaints over NBN installations: ombudsman
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman records complaints about the NBN.
Its 2015-16 annual report said there were few complaints about damage to property or placement of equipment.
But it points out the complaints are likely to be registered against retail service providers like Telstra instead.
The rollout of the NBN has increased rapidly since the TIO’s last report, with its latest update claiming it had activated more than 35,000 premises in just one week earlier this month.
In a statement, NBN said it expected “high standards of all delivery partners and their relevant sub-contractors”.
“The initial work conducted at Mrs Crook’s premises was clearly unsatisfactory and absolutely not up to the standards expected by NBN,” the statement read.
Telstra issued a statement, saying it would raise the issue with NBN Co, the government-owned company behind the network’s rollout.
“This is definitely not the standard of service we expect for our customers and we apologise to the customer,” the statement read.