Big companies slash jobs as unemployment fears grow

Optus and Westpac are poised to slash stuff numbers in preparation for the economic slowdown, amidst fears the economy could shed 200,000 jobs over the next 12 months.

Optus and Westpac are poised to slash stuff numbers in preparation for the economic slowdown, amidst fears the economy could shed 200,000 jobs over the next 12 months.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting Optus will announce a major restructuring sometime this week, with 400 positions at the company’s main office in North Ryde in Sydney set to be axed.

Optus is owned by Singapore-based telecommunications giant SingTel. The parent company’s head of Singapore operations, Allen Lew, said last month that the company had to brace for tougher times. “We are adopting a framework that will take into consideration 12 to 18 months of uncertainty and economic slowdown.”

Meanwhile, Westpac is set to cut 300 administrative staff from its wealth management arm, BT Financial Group. The bank is also believed to be preparing to cut an additional 150 jobs from its banking business.

Late last week, Victoria University announced it would cut 270 staff as the university tries to slash costs by $27 million next year. La Trobe University is also cutting 230 academic and general staff in the next few months.

Companies including Ford Australia, Fairfax Media, Starbucks and Boeing have also cut jobs in recent months.

The job cuts come as National Australia Bank economists warn that unemployment could jump to 6% by the end of next year, meaning the loss of 200,000 jobs. The bank expects economic growth would drop to 1.25% by the middle of next year, with interest rates dipping to around 4.5%.

“I think Christmas is going to be a lot slower and weaker and then it will continue getting weaker into next year,” the bank’s chief economist, Alan Oster, said on the weekend.

The bad news on job cuts continues and we want to hear from our community of entrepreneurs. Have you cut jobs in the last 12 months or are you planning to? Take our quick and completely anonymous SmartCompany poll and send any comments to us at [email protected].

Tomorrow: Where to for property? Find out how rising unemployment could lead to a property crash.

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