Telstra will axe 650 jobs from its Sensis business which comprises the Yellow Pages, White Pages and the Trading Post.
Sensis managing director, John Allan, claimed the proposed restructure will result in an overall reduction of 648 positions nationally, of which 391 back of house fulfilment and customer care roles will be outsourced.
Allan said the proposed changes to its operations and business model were to accelerate its transition from a traditional print-based business to a digital media business.
According to Allan, more than 60 per cent of its customers are advertising online and in mobile apps, while its White and Yellow Pages digital services received 18.4 million visits in January 2013.
“Our future is online and mobile where the vast majority of search and directory business takes place. Until now we have been operating with an outdated print-based model – this is no longer sustainable for us,” he said.
Allan also announced plans of the establishment of a new digital customer management centre, which will house 50 new jobs.
“These changes will fundamentally change the Sensis business and position it for success in the long term. Right now that means making some tough decisions and I’m acutely aware of the impact on our people,” Allan said.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has strongly condemned the move to sack hundreds of workers.
“Sensis staff have been crushed by the scale of these cuts for a company that is part of Telstra which earlier this month posted record half year profits of $1.6 billion,” CPSU national president, Michael Tull, said.
The union claimed it has been requesting more information from Telstra about the future direction of the company over the past few months.
“It is no secret that Sensis has been struggling so they should have had the decency to tell staff what is going on rather than dropping this bombshell on them today. Sensis staff have done everything they can do to improve the health of this company, so they deserve to be treated better,” Tull said.
He said the union will try to ensure members get their full rights and entitlements during the process and will request Sensis to talk to staff about redeployment across Telstra.
In its financial results for the half year ending December 31 2012, Telstra announced that Sensis will be transitioned to a digital model following its revenue decline.
Sensis performance for the half year was down 12.6 per cent to $479 million.
Its print revenues declined from $280 million to $202 million – by 27.9 per cent. Individual revenue declines include eight per cent for the White Pages and 22 per cent for the Yellow Pages.
It attributed decline in other avenues to lower call volumes across all voice products.
Telstra chief financial officer, Andrew Penn, said the performance for the half year was “in line with expectations”.
“We do expect the margin to decline year-on-year with the revenue reduction,” he claimed.