09 July 2016
by Lucy Battersby

Telstra cuts hundreds of jobs nationwide

Telstra will axe 140 jobs in Melbourne and close a Perth call centre.

Telstra has sacked hundreds of customer service and management staff from its call centres around the country and will offshore more work to the Philippines.

The telecommunications giant has not publicly announced the redundancies this week, but the Community and Public Sector Union revealed the job losses on Friday after receiving alerts from affected members. The union said 450 workers had received notices that they would lose their jobs in recent days.

A Telstra spokesman confirmed the cuts on Friday afternoon, but said 326 staff would be affected.

The Telstra job losses are nationwide, with at least 140 jobs slashed in Melbourne and the closure of an entire call centre in Perth, according to the union. Calls going to Perth centre would now be handled through call centres in Bathurst, NSW and Cebu, in the Philippines.

In Melbourne, Telstra is closing down several niche call centres, such as the centre that handles bereavement calls about deceased customers, and will lay off the relevant team leaders.

"We have talked to our people about a proposal to make changes to our contact centre and Telstra business teams that will see a total of 326 roles impacted nationally. It impacts roles across our sales, service and national office teams," the Telstra spokesman said.

"We take our responsibility to support employees through this period very seriously and we absolutely understand the impact announcements like this can have on our staff."

Unions claim job cuts and offshoring are reducing Telstra's ability to manage its data, mobile and telephone networks.

"CPSU members working at Telstra predict that network outages and other problems will only become more common because of the highly skilled people who have been sacked, many of who have decades of experience in keeping Telstra's services running," union official Teresa Davison said.

"You may not miss those highly skilled people every day but you certainly notice when the network goes down and you're relying on someone far less experienced in another country to fix it."

Telstra has seen a series of network outages this year including a national mobile outage in February and a data network outage that affected several major enterprise customers on the last day of the financial year.

The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, which covers Telstra technicians, said budget and staff cutbacks were causing network problems.

You may not miss those highly skilled people every day but you certainly notice when the network goes down.

"The main problem is a loss of expertise in house, and the reliance on contractors and vendors to provide the fix to a problem that is wider than just the vendors products," branch secretary said.