Telstra's plan to slash a quarter of its workforce

Federal Government must intervene as Telstra announces unprecedented plan to slash a quarter of its workforce

The unprecedented scale of Telstra’s savage cuts to a quarter of its Australian workforce is a devastating blow to workers, their families and communities that will drastically impact service quality for consumers, the Community and Public Sector Union has warned.

This union has urged Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash to take action by bringing Telstra management together with key stakeholders – including unions, consumers and community representatives – to work out an alternative.

CPSU Deputy National President Rupert Evans said the scale of the jobs cuts were unprecedented.

“Even for a company as addicted to offshoring and cutting Australian jobs as Telstra is, this announcement is unprecedented in its scale,” Mr Evans said.

“If left unchecked, this decision by a major Australian company to axe such an extraordinary number of jobs will reverberate through the entire Australian economy.

“These massive cuts are not the right decision for Telstra’s future, they’re not the right plan for the communities that rely on these jobs and Telstra services, they’re not the right outcome for the economy, and the Australian Government needs to act.”

Mr Evans said that Telstra had known for years the likely impacts of digital disruption, yet had completely failed to adequately plan their workforce in response to the challenge.

“Corporations like Telstra have a responsibility to manage their workforce, plan for the future, and address challenges such as digital disruption, which requires a long-term plan that identifies jobs at risk and provides the skills and training employees need to shift into new roles” he said.

“If major employers like Telstra continue to fail to plan for the future, then simply respond with massive job cuts to prop up their balance sheets, it will have a devastating impact that ripples across our entire economy.

“The communities that rely on these jobs are rightly asking today how anyone will be able to buy products and services from Telstra or other major companies in future if no one has a secure job.”

The union said the importance of Federal Government intervention was highlighted by the fact that Telstra provides a range of essential community services.

“Telstra isn’t an ordinary phone company, it’s a former public asset that is still tasked with providing essential telecommunications services, particularly in rural and regional Australia,” Mr Evans said.

“Telstra should be making greater investment in their network, but instead they have announced massive cuts that mean less staff to resolve problems, carry out maintenance, or provide customer support.”

The union also warned that Telstra’s announcement of “all digital experiences” for customers suggested they were looking to close Australian call centres and force customers, including the elderly and those with limited literacy, to access services and support online.

“The move to ‘all digital experiences’ won’t just be bad for consumers, it means a significant number of these job losses will be in regional locations that have Telstra call centres, including Hobart, Maryborough, Newcastle, Townsville, and Bathurst,” Mr Evans said.

“The number one thing customers say to our members is that all they want when they have a problem with their Telstra service is to be able to ring an Australian call centre where a skilled person can help fix their problem.” He said the unilateral announcement, which came without any consultation or negotiation, showed how broken Australia’s workplace laws were.

“We have been bargaining with Telstra management in good faith about a new workplace agreement, but not once have they been upfront and said they want to axe a quarter of the workforce,” Mr Evans said.

“We will be demanding that the company’s announced funding of ‘up to $50 million’ for transition programs to assist workers be substantially increased to support impacted workers and their communities.

“The system is clearly broken when hardworking employees are simply ambushed by management and told one in every four of them will lose their jobs.”