Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Telstra contract 'sweatshop'




The above three URLs are in chronological order; the first is from this morning’s Herald-Sun, the middle appears to have been filed about midday, and the bottom one is ABC time-stamped at 4.01pm.

Between them, they paint a rather depressing picture – even just in the standard of journalism they display, for starters.

The Herald-Sun report breaking the story is admirably researched in some aspects. However, the article is rendered almost worthless by the persistent ambiguity it entertains, without ever resolving – are the outsourced “Indian” contractors working in Australia or not? The story is – or at least should be – very different, depending on the answer to this. The Herald-Sun story’s opening suggests that the “Indian” workers are working in Australia, but then there is a gaggle of third-party quotes, all taking about offshore outsourcing – i.e. Indian workers in India.

This ambiguity was still not resolved in the midday report (middle URL above) – which leaves Victorian Premier Steve Bracks’s offer of government support for Telstra “to bring the work back to Australia” either completely misinformed, or displaying a candid largesse for the looting of taxpayer funds, by subsiding local sweatshops.

By this afternoon, the only light the ABC could throw on the story was that one company was able to deny the $12,000 annual salary figure mentioned in the Herald-Sun story, at least inasmuch as it applies to the “Indian” workers working in Australia. Whether intended by the ABC or not, this denial comes across as cagey – the outsourcing company spokesperson denies only the exact Herald Sun story salary figure mentioned, and does it with an un-sic-ced malapropism, to boot:

"I categorically refute we have any person in Australia working in Australia for a $1,000 a month."

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