Telstra is cutting 326 customer service jobs, as the telco continues to outsource its call centre capabilities to the Philippines.
According to the company, the majority of the cuts will come from sales, service and national office teams, impacting contact centres in Melbourne and Perth.
Following the announcement, the Community and Public Sector Union - who originally claimed the number to be closer to 450 - came out to condemn the decision to send Australian jobs overseas, suggesting that the company is putting “profits before customers and staff”.
“This is a devastating blow to these workers, who Telstra is throwing on the scrapheap,” CPSU Director of Science and Communications, Teresa Davison, said.
According to the union, at least one of four of the positions will be sent offshore, with the majority of the job cuts – including 94 in Perth and 140 in Melbourne - in customer services roles.
As a result, the CPSU has launched a petition in response to the latest round of sackings, calling on Telstra to end its policy of sending jobs offshore and instead invest in Australian workers and innovation.
“Customers pay top dollar for Telstra services and as tax payers 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,” Davison added.
“Telstra hides behind corporate clichés by claiming offshore call centres will deliver better customer service. That’s simply not most people’s experience. Time and again, customers say they want local customer service.”
Davison said CPSU 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,” Davison added.
“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?”
Going forward, 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,” Davison added.
“Telstra’s future success lies in investing in Australian innovation, skills and jobs rather than making decisions based on short-term greed.
“Telstra is not only reducing its own capacity but removing thousands of job opportunities for future generations. That’s why we’re asking the public to send Telstra a strong message that Australian jobs matter by signing our petition.
“The CPSU will be working hard to help these workers being unfairly targeted through this process. Telstra must make every effort to minimise the impact of this on these people and their families.”
Following a round of 400 job losses in October, Telstra said the latest move to cull its workforce comes from a shift in how customers interact with the company, triggered by an increase in online transactions.
“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," a Telstra spokesperson confirmed.
“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.
“We constantly review the way we work to simplify our business and remove duplication to improve customer experience.”
The latest cuts follow a string of high-profile departures at Telstra, with Keith Masterton recently vacating his role as Director Business and Enterprise Partners after 26 years of service.
In late May, the company sacked Chief Technology Officer, Vish Nandlall, with the executive leaving under a cloud of controversy after only 21 months in the role.