Telstra flags more job cuts at call centres

Telstra chief executive David Thodey has signalled a further decline in call-centre jobs as more customers turn to the internet to communicate with the telco.

Telstra chief executive David Thodey has signalled a further decline in call-centre jobs as more customers turn to the internet to communicate with the telco.

Mr Thodey's message came amid an outcry from unions about the sending of thousands of jobs offshore. There are an estimated 10,000 overseas contractors working for Telstra call centres.

He told shareholders at the company's annual meeting on Tuesday that the decline in call centre jobs was inevitable as customers changed their habits.

"On the offshoring of work, our customers increasingly want to interact with us online," he said. "Forty per cent of customer transactions were completed online in 2013 - compared to 30 per cent in 2012 - and this percentage will grow again this year.

"This means that our contact centre work is declining quickly and will continue to do so."

Telstra chairwoman Catherine Livingstone also addressed the issue of redundancies as many shareholders had expressed concerns in writing to the company.

"The size and nature of our workforce is rebalancing to reflect the fact that some parts of our business are reducing in size, while other parts are growing," she said. "We are responding to the changing market structure, including the establishment of the NBN, and changing demand for our fixed-line services."

Ms Livingstone said while there were job losses at legacy businesses such as fixed-line telephony, new jobs were created in sectors such as network applications.

She also reiterated the company's determination to defend the $11 billion NBN deal with the government, which is under review following the Coalition victory in the federal election.

"We will seek to preserve the value in those agreements in any renegotiation," she said.

The company introduced Chin Hu Lim, a senior telco executive with extensive experience in the Asia Pacific-region, been brought in to boost Telstra's Asia capability as it expands internationally.

Mr Thodey emphasised Asia's importance in the growth strategy.

"Asia's rise is creating opportunities for us to expand our footprint across Asia, and help Australian, European and American companies make the leap into Asian markets," he said. "That's why we are making strategic investment across Asia, such as new data centres in Singapore and cloud-enabled nodes in Singapore and Hong Kong."

Ms Livingstone defended the remuneration packages of Telstra's executives, including Mr Thodey's.

"Our intention is to bring Mr Thodey's fixed remuneration up to median of ASX 20," she said.

Ms Livingstone said the company had abandoned plans to recruit some senior executives because of their expensive price tags. "In many cases, we don't pursue overseas recruitments because the remuneration requirement is too high. We don't feel its is justified for the roles we have here," she said.

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