Layoffs, new S'pore workforce at WorldCom

Beleaguered telecommunications giant WorldCom has laid off 190 employees in Australia and shifted the support service center there to Singapore.

SYDNEY--Beleaguered telecommunications giant WorldCom has laid off 190 employees in Australia, leaving its support lines ringing off the hook and waiting time on the company's toll-free phone line stretching to over half an hour.

The cuts were part of a regional restructuring exercise which affected 390 workers from WorldCom's 1,800-person payroll in Asia-Pacific, said a company spokesperson. The firm's Sydney-based support services will also be transferred to Singapore.

"The number of job losses in Australia could turn out to be less if the support staff affected are willing to move to Singapore," the spokesperson added. However, the company could not confirm the number of placements there.

While some of the regional layoffs were immediate, other affected workers have until February to seek alternative employment.

U.S.-based WorldCom filed for Chapter 11 protection in July after a corporate scandal, which left a US$4 billion hole in the company's accounts, and accumulating more than US$40 billion in debt.