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Telstra confirms over 300 job cuts

After reports emerged that 450 roles would be going to help the telco offshore its business, Telstra confirmed that it will be cutting 326 jobs across its sales, service, and national office teams.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Telstra has confirmed that it will be cutting jobs across its business, but has refuted reports that it would be making 450 roles redundant, saying the number of jobs slashed will be 326.

"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," a Telstra spokesperson said in a statement.

"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.

The Telstra spokesperson added that the job cuts would "remove duplication" in its customer service solution, and would "increase slightly the amount of work done by our partners overseas", with work types to be consolidated across Australia and the Philippines.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) had reported earlier on Friday that Telstra was sacking 450 people, including 140 jobs in Melbourne and 94 in Perth.

According to the CPSU, a quarter of the 450 jobs were due to the telco wanting to offshore its operations.

"This is a devastating blow to these 450 workers, who Telstra is throwing on the scrapheap. Customers pay top dollar for Telstra services, and as taxpayers we're giving millions of dollars to Telstra to roll out the NBN, yet the company continues to undermine the quality and reliability of its services by callously sacking Australian workers," Teresa Davison, director of CPSU's Science and Communications Division, said.

Davison also blamed the telco's series of network outages -- Telstra last week experienced its seventh outage this year, bringing down online services for Myer, Medibank, the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Mitcham Private Hospital, Labor's Melbourne campaign headquarters, Monash University, Jetstar, Officeworks, The Good Guys, Simply Energy, and ME Bank in the process -- on the offshoring of thousands of jobs.

"Our analysis indicates that Telstra has shipped more than 10,000 jobs overseas. Thousands of people working in technical roles have been sacked, along with customer service and administration staff. Is it any wonder that Telstra's network and services have become less reliable and it's become harder for customers to speak to anyone about it?" Davison said.

"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.

"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's network has had a rough 2016, with customers subjected to three major outages over a period of six weeks: The first on February 22, which affected prepaid and post-paid mobile services and was caused by "embarrassing human error"; the second on March 17, which involved an hours-long national mobile data and voice outage; and the third on March 22, which was a smaller voice outage.

Telstra then experienced an NBN and ADSL outage in May that resulted in the telco having to send free modems to customers still affected several days later, a mobile data services outage later that week, and a broadband service outage in June.

As a result, Telstra has pledged to invest an additional AU$250 million in its network over the next six to 12 months.

Rival telecommunications provider Optus last week said that it is similarly considering outsourcing back office roles across its HR and finance departments, although the resulting redundancies have yet to be revealed and would not occur until next year.

This followed Optus' announcement in April that it would be restructuring its Enterprise and Consumer divisions through a series of around 480 redundancies, with a "reshape" of its workforce planned in order to support its transformation into a multimedia company rather than a pure telecommunications carrier.

Optus rationalised the process by saying it would allow it to become more streamlined and "innovative".

Updated 4.26pm AEST, July 8: Added comment from Telstra.

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