Telstra has officially confirmed that around 1, 400 jobs are to be cut across Australia over the next six months as part of a large-scale cost-saving effort by the telecoms giant.
Telstra CEO Andy Penn has blamed “the increased competitive dynamics of the market and the acceleration of the rollout of the NBN (National Broadband Network)” for the necessity of these cuts, and has talked of the downsizing helping to streamline the company’s operations.
“Today, we announced a series of structural reorganisations which are very much about aligning the business to reduce complexity [and] create a leaner business,” he said.
“We recognise that if these changes proceed it will mean some valued colleagues will be leaving the business. Change of this magnitude is always hard. I can assure you our proposal for these changes has been made after careful deliberation.”
The move has been met with severe backlash, with a representative of the Communications Union describing the move as workers having been “ambushed” by businesses, claiming the move had “obviously been months in the planning by the executives”.
“There had been no indication or any signs given to the union or workforce — up until a text message received by staff shortly before 10.30am today,” said Shane Murphy, the CU’s divisional president and NSW secretary.
“They were asked to join a teleconference at 11:00am, and advised 1, 400 of their jobs would no longer apply in the next six months.”
CU Victoria Secretary John Ellery also voiced concerns that important technical knowledge would be stripped out of the company and the telecommunications industry in general with these cuts.
“Telstra has always been a technical organisation filled with highly technical people and now they’re being sacked or the jobs are going off to India,” he said.
“You’re just having people saying ‘enough’s enough, I’m getting out’.”
It is expected that Telstra will lose up to $3 billion per year in revenue when the NBN rollout is completed in 2020, and its shares dropped earlier this year as competitor TGP Telecom announced its intention to form a competing mobile phone network after acquiring the last free space on Australia’s premium 700MHZ spectrum in a further blow to potential further profitability.