Telstra to cut 900 workers, union claims

Telco giant Telstra has been accused of planning to lay off 900 workers during the next financial year, with a major union saying the sackings would directly impact the company’s customer service division.

The Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union have said staff were briefed about the company’s plans yesterday.

“They’ve decided on budget cuts and in order to try and fit the problems they’ve got into the budget cuts, they’re having a review of operations,” CEPU divisional president Len Cooper told AAP.

“They’re going to try and produce cuts of approximately 900 staff to fit the budget.”

It is understood any staff to be laid off will be offered redundancy packages. But Cooper said the impact could be disastrous for the company, especially in the wake of a recent report showing telecommunications companies aren’t doing their part when it comes to customer complaints.

“Last October, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman reported a 54% increase in complaints and between July and December 2009 Telstra topped the grievance list with 58,597 complaints,” he said.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority even announced last week it will launch an inquiry into the telecommunications industry’s handling of complaints, with the Ombudsman receiving over 900 complaints per day.

However, Telstra has refused to confirm the number, instead saying that a number of changes coming over the next year could include potential job reductions, and that “these are just proposals that we are talking to our employees about”.

“The fact is we’re improving our network and our ways of doing things and there’s less work required to design, build and maintain our networks,” a spokesperson told AAP.

“Unfortunately there’s never a good time for job reductions but new technologies and new ways of working mean that we can serve our customers with fewer jobs.”

Telstra could be looking to shore up its bottom line, following recent revenue figures indicating a drop in the number of customers taking up fixed-line services.

Telstra was not available for comment prior to publication.

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