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Union slams Telstra's sweeping redundancies as first cuts emerge

Union slams Telstra's sweeping redundancies as first cuts emerge

Hardest hit division in first round of cuts expected to be Telstra Operations

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has labelled Telstra’s move to slash up to 1400 jobs from it ranks as being driven by “top-down financial targets” rather than the telco’s self-professes need to “urgently” transform.

Australia’s largest telco confirmed on 14 June that up to 1400 employees would be cut from its employee ranks.

Telstra chief, Andy Penn, revealed that the proposed job cuts would affect roles right across the company’s entire business, as it launches itself headlong into an overarching transformation strategy.

In a message sent to Telstra employees, Penn revealed that the cuts will come from most parts of the business across much of the country.

The proposed redundancies, according to Penn, are all part of broader plan to better position the company to tackle evolving market and technological pressures.

“Telstra faces an unprecedented world of technology innovation and digital disruption,” Penn said. “This presents opportunities because we are at the centre of helping our customers adapt to technology innovation in their own industries.”

However, the CWU is now claiming that the job cuts are nothing more than an effort for the telco to hit its financial targets, arguing that Telstra’s inability thus far to pinpoint which parts of its business the first round of cuts will come from indicate

“As for the cuts themselves, the CWU considers that these are clearly being driven by top-down financial targets rather than actual functional redundancies,” the CWU said in a statement.

“That Telstra has flagged some 500 job losses later this year, but does not yet know quite where they will come from, speaks for itself.

“This is a recipe for future resource shortfalls such as those that led to Telstra’s needing to introduce “rostered” i.e. compulsory overtime in the field workforce last year,” it said.

Regardless, Penn has framed the redundancies as being necessary to affect the company-wide transformation activities has flagged. At the same time, Penn has conceded that Telstra needs to become a “leaner” organisation in the process.

According to Penn, the proposed changes are designed for Telstra to work and deliver simpler end-to-end services, reduce its overall operating costs and allow it to compete more effectively.

Meanwhile, the CWU and other Telstra unions met with Telstra on 15 June for an initial briefing on the sweeping restructure.

According to the CWU, hardest hit will be Telstra Operations which is set for a net reduction of some 349 roles now and a further possible 500 roles by the end of 2017.

Of the 479 current roles going out of Operations, over half (259) are coming out of Customer Service Delivery (CSD), the Union said.  Of these, about half (145) are from Field Service Delivery (FSD), mainly from 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.

“Telstra says that the redundancies reflect declining work volumes, largely due to NBN [National Broadband Network] migration,” the CWU said.

“The CWU pointed out that Telstra is still hiring contractors in at least some of the areas where it is claiming that work is falling off,” it said.

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