WA Govt intervenes in offshoring plan

Summary:Fears that over 100 jobs from Western Australian Energy company Synergy would be outsourced to an Indian IT company were yesterday laid to rest.

Fears that over 100 jobs from Western Australian Energy company Synergy would be outsourced to an Indian IT company were yesterday laid to rest.

We have made it clear to our employees, and publicly, [that] the speculation far exceeded anything we have been considering. Today's announcement puts that speculation to rest

Synergy MD Jim Mitchell

Western Australian Shadow Minister for Energy Kate Doust had said earlier this week that Synergy was negotiating with an Indian company with the goal of sending IT jobs abroad.

Energy Minister Peter Collier said he would take the concerns to the company and yesterday announced a plan developed with Synergy to make sure no Western Australian jobs would be sent overseas as part of Synergy's business transformation program to introduce new SAP-based customer care and billing systems.

Synergy admitted that there had been speculation recently about job losses because of discussions with partners to carry out the business transformation.

"We have made it clear to our employees, and publicly, [that] the speculation far exceeded anything we have been considering. Today's announcement puts that speculation to rest," managing director Jim Mitchell said in a statement.

Synergy put forward a five-point plan for the transformation, including hiring contact centre capability from Stellar in Joondalup while its employees were being trained on the new customer care and billing system. It would also hire Alphawest to support its datacentre and IT services for five years.

It said that it has also commissioned an unnamed global partner to provide back office processing support while Synergy employees were trained. This partner would establish a presence in Western Australia to carry out the work.

Twenty full-time positions would be dropped from the company, but not from the state, the company said.

"Synergy is to be applauded for working to deliver a solution which supports local jobs and local industry. At the same time, it will deliver efficiencies and savings to its business and improve customer service," Collier said in a statement.

Doust said that she was pleased that no permanent jobs would be relocated overseas, but she still had reservations. "Although the jobs won't be lost to Western Australia they have been lost to Synergy," she said. Another concern she had was that although permanent jobs might not be migrating, contract work could be.

"Energy Minister Peter Collier needs to provide details on how the government will ensure the jobs will indeed remain in Western Australia, whether today's announcement applies to fixed term contract workers at Synergy and for how long the permanent jobs are guaranteed to remain in Western Australia," she said. "What will happen to these positions when their contracts expire?"

She also had misgivings on the choice of a global partner to provide IT services. "Western Australia has a thriving IT industry. What has the government done to source expertise from locally owned IT companies?"

Topics: SAP, IT Employment

About

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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