Telstra redundancies to hit Operations hardest

While confirming the telco union's claims that its Operations arm will see a high number of jobs go, Telstra has said it will continue being a 'major employer' in regional Australia.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Telstra has confirmed reports by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) that its Operations division will see up to 849 roles made redundant this year, affecting regional areas of Australia.

The CWU had reported that 1,100 of the 1,400 total roles being made redundant will occur in the first six months of the current financial year, with Telstra Operations seeing around 349 jobs leave now and an additional possible 500 by the end of the calendar year.

Out of 479 current roles slated to go from Operations, more than half -- 259 -- will go from Customer Service Delivery (CSD), the CWU reported and Telstra confirmed to ZDNet.

Of those, 145 will be from Field Service Delivery (FSD), which the CWU said would primarily impact regional areas.

"While there are new roles being created in some parts of CSD as a whole, there are no new roles being created in FSD to offset these regional job losses," the CWU claimed.

Telstra said it will not know the exact impacts until it concludes its consultation; however, it added that it will continue being a "major employer" in regional Australia.

"While the proposed changes will impact some regional areas, they will not mean we no longer have a presence in regional communities where we have one today. We take our role in regional communities very seriously, and we will continue to be major employer," a spokesperson told ZDNet.

"At the same time, many of the changes impacting our business are occurring in regional as well as urban areas."

The CWU also claimed that while the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) -- and the AU$2 billion to AU$3 billion earnings gap it will cause for Telstra -- has been cited as a key reason for the Telstra redundancies, Telstra is continuing to hire contractors in some of the areas where it said its work is falling off.

"Members are also telling the CWU that there has been no slowdown in work in areas where job numbers are being reduced," the CWU claimed.

Telstra explained that as responsibility for increasing amounts of the fixed-line infrastructure passes over to NBN, Telstra will have less work to operate and maintain that network -- but added that there are several factors causing the redundancies, rather than simply less work as the NBN rolls out.

"There are other key factors as well, such as the automation of our networks, the long-running decline of use of fixed voice services, changing customer expectations, and the need to reduce our cost base," the spokesperson explained.

"It is the combination of these factors that is the driver for our proposed workforce changes rather than just a single issue."

Telstra CEO Andy Penn had announced last week that the 1,400 job cuts would affect Operations, Retail, Global Enterprise and Services (GES), and Media and Marketing.

According to Penn, the jobs are going in a bid to improve customer service, reduce operational costs, and increase its capacity to compete, as well as being in response to the NBN rollout and overall "increased competitive pressures".

"These changes are all part of an organisation-wide restructure," he said.

According to an email sent to Telstra employees by Penn last week, digitisation has caused "significant challenges, as technology is disrupting our own operations", with Telstra needing to "transform urgently".

A series of proposed changes in Penn's letter to Telstra employees also involved a new organisational structure for its Networks, NBN and Commercial Delivery, IT and Digital Solutions, and Customer Service Management businesses.

Telstra will also change its Telstra Retail business name to Telstra Consumer and Small Business and create three core divisions within this arm called Customer Experience and Transformation; Telstra Products; and Consumer and Small Business Sales and Service.

The third change will see its GES arm changed to "Telstra Enterprise", with an implementation of a new sales and service model within the business to improve customer experience by combining sales and services into one team.

Under the fourth proposed change, Telstra Business will be broken apart, with the Premier Business customer segment and its related teams to move to Enterprise, and the Small Business customer segment to move to a Consumer and Small Business arm.

Lastly, Telstra will combine its domestic and international marketing teams for Enterprise and make changes to its Media team in order to "focus more on the customer and be more agile".

Penn pointed out that while some jobs will no longer exist, new roles will be created across digitisation, software, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

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