Telstra urged to dial back ‘appalling’ mass job cuts

Jack Gramenz and Samantha Lock |

Telstra is cutting up to 2800 jobs.
Telstra is cutting up to 2800 jobs.

Telstra has been called on to halt its “appalling” decision to sack thousands of workers as the telco giant tries to cut costs and streamline its business.

Up to 2800 staff supporting some of Australia’s largest firms face the axe under the plan, which was revealed on Tuesday.

The job cuts involve the company shedding up to nine per cent of its 30,000-strong workforce by the end of 2024 to contribute to savings of $350 million at the firm, which is among the nation’s largest by market value.

Talks with workers and unions on initial cuts to nearly 400 jobs would start immediately, Telstra told investors.

Telstra job cuts
Telstra says it will simplify its operations after expanding too far from its core services. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

The axed roles would mainly come from a “reset” of the telco’s business-to-business enterprise division, including roles in tech services, consulting, sales and delivery teams.

Communication Workers Union national assistant secretary James Perkins called on Telstra to halt the planned cuts.

“Let’s try to find an outcome that delivers the efficiencies that Telstra say they need and maintains employment,” he said.

Telstra chief executive Vicki Brady said the business needed to be sustainable to meet ever-increasing demands as data on its mobile network grew at 30 per cent a year.

“This means we have to make significant ongoing investments in our infrastructure, our technology and our services to deliver what our customers need today and into the future,” she said.

“I am confident we will come out the other side of this a more focused and successful company.”

Telstra will simplify its enterprise offering after expanding too far from its core services.

Telstra CEO Vicki Brady flagged potential redundancies in February.
Telstra CEO Vicki Brady says the restructure and redundancies could cost up to $250 million. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

“While parts of our business are performing strongly, there are parts that are not delivering to expectation,” Ms Brady said.

“These changes to our product set are focused on big businesses and big organisations, and again, we will work with our customers as we transition them to a more modern set of products.”

Telstra might partner with former competitors to take on its customers while the telco streamlined its operations, Ms Brady said.

While bad news for thousands of Telstra workers, the company offered some balm for consumers, with mobile customers spared an increase in prices for post-paid plans in July.

Telstra was removing the annual pricing review linked to the consumer price index on those plans, but was still deciding how it would set prices in the future, Ms Brady said.

The restructure and redundancies could cost up to $250 million, but the Telstra chief said supporting workers was her highest priority and the firm would offer industry leading packages to those who lost their jobs.

General view of a Telstra store in Sydney,
Most of the 2800 jobs to go at Telstra will be axed by the end of 2024. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Perkins said the cuts came as a shock to workers, who had inundated the union with calls and emails after discovering they and hundreds of their colleagues could lose their jobs.

“When a company decides that the way to improve efficiency or increase their bottom line is through sacking people, that’s a very dangerous message to send,” he said.

“We need to be better than this as a country and they need to be better than this as a business, it’s appalling.”

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the job cuts would come as distressing news to a lot of people.

“We need to make sure that services don’t suffer as a consequence of these changes,” he said.

Ms Brady said Telstra was also looking to cut “non-labour related” costs and the job losses would not target consumer customer-service roles the telco has recently invested in.

Telstra reported an increase in half-yearly income and profits in February on the back of strong growth in its mobiles business.

Its shares closed down more than 2.1 per cent on Tuesday at $3.59.

AAP