Telstra workers looking down the barrel of a redundancy round that could see up to 1400 jobs affected might be able to remain employed via a job swap option, according to the telco union. But whether they will be able to swap remains to be seen.
The telco confirmed in June that it was planning to launch itself headlong into an overarching transformation strategy that would result in the job losses.
Telstra chief, Andy Penn, said at the time that the proposed changes would ultimately result in up to 1400 roles no longer being required over the next six months.
“This impacts positions from most parts of the business, at all levels of seniority and from all states and territories and, in some cases, internationally,” he said at the time.
According to Penn, the proposed changes are designed to enable Telstra to work and deliver simpler end-to-end services, reduce its overall operating costs and allow it to compete more effectively.
Now, the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents Telstra’s workers, has said that many of the employees affected by the transformation strategy and the resulting redundancies may be able to request a job swap rather than an outright redundancy.
However, recent “oversubscribed” redundancy offers within the company might cause some problems with this option.
According to the CWU, the options for voluntary redundancy and swaps are provided for in the Telstra Enterprise Agreement (TEA), where they are recognised as measures that can be used to mitigate the impact of redundancy.
While the TEA doesn’t oblige Telstra to accept volunteers or swaps, Telstra does at least have to consider these options, the CWU claims. In the union’s view, this means that, at a minimum, Telstra should consider employees’ preferences seriously and try to accommodate them where possible.
“The fact is that Telstra seldom has trouble finding volunteers when redundancies are announced,” the CWU said in a statement. “On the contrary, a number of recent offers have been ‘oversubscribed’.
“This hardly reflects well on the state of morale in the company. It also creates problems for those looking for job swaps. If no one wants to stay the swap option can evaporate,” the union stated.
The CWU said that it has received a number of inquiries about the voluntary redundancy and job swap processes since Telstra announced the proposed redundancies that are expected to flow from its extensive reorganisation.
Telstra told ARN only that “the process is still ongoing and that impacted people are always considered in the first instance for any available positions”, noting that this is part of its redeployment obligations.
The company had already flagged that, as part of the restructure, it would announce a number of new roles being created as part of its overarching structural changes.
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 in June. “This presents opportunities because we are at the centre of helping our customers adapt to technology innovation in their own industries.
“However, it also presents significant challenges as technology is disrupting our own operations as well. I strongly believe we can succeed in this environment, however to do so we need to transform, urgently.
“We will need to become a leaner organisation, one built on digitised systems and services for customers and employees, and one where we will continue to rely on partners for scale,” he said.