Number's up for 1100 Telstra staff with more jobs on line
Telstra has refused to rule out more cuts to its workforce after announcing it will shed 1100 jobs as part of a national restructure, sparking an outcry by unions.
The bulk of the job losses will come from Telstra Operations, the business unit that handles the construction and operation of Telstra's fixed-line networks, plus staff in customer services.
News of the jobs cuts, which amount to about 3 per cent of Telstra's Australian workforce of 30,000, come after the company announced a sweeping overhaul of its operations in May.
The company has so far briefed only about half the workers who will be impacted by the cuts. These include technicians in NSW, Victoria, ACT, Queensland and Tasmania, the media operations team and the customer service team.
Telstra chief operations officer Brendon Riley said the cuts would allow the company to build other areas of the business, including its network applications division and international operations.
"We said we expected there to be impacts on jobs from these changes, and after reviewing the business over the last few months, today we briefed our people on the expected impacts," Mr Riley said.
"We are seeing reductions of roles in declining businesses, due to evolving technologies."
The decision has enraged union groups who criticised the company for putting shareholders before workers and cutting domestic jobs while expanding overseas.
"This is one of the most profitable companies in Australia and yet it continues to move jobs offshore," Communications Electrical Plumbing Unions official Shane Murphy said. Telstra has reported a net profit of more than $3 billion each year for the past five years, and is favoured by investors for its big dividend payouts.
"This initial announcement is just the tip of the iceberg," Mr Murphy said, adding he expected more cuts to be announced before the end of the financial year.
The Community and Public Sector Union, which also represents affected workers, said the company's cuts were drastic.
"Telstra has been making staff redundant every week, almost every day," CPSU organiser Teresa Davison said.
"Most of the jobs that have gone so far have gone offshore."
Mr Riley said the telco was planning to increase jobs in its overseas divisions, but that it did not equate to moving jobs overseas.
"Certainly we are looking to build our capabilities in Asia, that's something that we're working on," he said.
"[But] if you look at the three things we've announced ... none of them are going overseas."
He could not rule out further cuts to other divisions before the end of the year. "[Telstra chief executive] David [Thodey] is on record as saying we need to continue to change the shape of Telstra, and it's probably going to get smaller every year."
The latest cuts are expected to occur between now and next June.
BusinessDay reported in May that Telstra's restructure would mean a complete reorganisation of the company's structure, with its operations put into five groups, three of which - networks, IT solutions and customer service delivery - would be new. The communications union is preparing to meet Telstra on Thursday to discuss the job cuts, which will affect technicians, managerial and customer service staff.
Mr Murphy said the job cuts came when workers were needed to meet the demands of the NBN roll out.
"It is a knee-jerk reaction considering all the work Telstra has before it with NBN regardless of which path Mr Turnbull chooses to take with the broadband network. Telstra has a major role to play and it is now shedding some of the most skilled employees," he said.