news Telstra’s advertising and directories business Sensis has revealed plans to cut about 800 jobs Australia-wide, in a move that one of the telco’s main unions has immediately stated will “irreparably harm local economies and erode the nation’s skills base”.
The company had previously been reported to be considering cutting up to 400 jobs. However, in a statement released yesterday, Sensis said a proposal currently being considered would result in an overall reduction of approximately 800 roles nationally across Sensis’ advertising operations, sales, management and support areas.
Sensis Managing Director, John Allan, said becoming a more digitally-focused marketing services company was an important part of Sensis’ strategy and future as it met the challenge of increased competition from online and mobile search directories.
“These changes are designed to support our growing digital business, respond to competition and deliver improvements in the service we provide to our customers,” Allan said. “As a leader in digital marketing services and print directories serving Australian businesses, Sensis needs to remain responsive to the changing media landscape. While these decisions are difficult, they are necessary to ensure Sensis maintains its competitive position.”
Key changes under the proposed restructure include: The creation of two telephone sales “centres of excellence” in Melbourne and Sydney; A new mobile and flexible operating model for face-to-face sales teams designed to reduce administrative workload for sales staff, so they can provide higher levels of customer contact; Extending the service provided by external vendors to better support Sensis’ new sales and service approach; and streamlining of Sensis’ product and go-to-market structures so it can be more agile in a changing media environment.
Allan said Sensis would now commence consultation with employees and unions on the proposed changes. “These are very difficult decisions and are never taken lightly. We are working with our people to keep them informed and to provide support for those who may be affected by the proposed changes should they proceed.”
The news comes just one month after Telstra revealed it would sell 70 percent of Sensis to US-based private equity firm Platinum Equity, with the sale to net the telco $454 million. It is extremely common for companies to go through large redundancy rounds after being bought by private equity firms.
In a separate statement, the Community and Public Sector union said the cuts would “irreparably harm local economies and erode the nation’s skills base”. The union pointed out that Sensis had recently delivered an annual income of $1.1 billion and net profit of nearly $600 million to Telstra.
CPSU National President Michael Tull said: “Telstra’s actions are sending shockwaves through communities that are already seeing jobs disappearing at an alarming rate. When you offshore jobs you are effectively saying to the communities that support you and buy your products – Telstra just doesn’t care.”
The CPSU estimates that in the past 12 months Sensis has shed almost half of its entire workforce, with at least 600 roles being moved to the Philippines and India. The union also estimates that Telstra’s shadow overseas workforce now numbers 10,000 – or roughly a third of its total staff complement.
Tull said: “Telstra likes to spin the line that these jobs are going because Sensis is a business in distress. That’s wrong. Sensis still made more than half a billion dollars in net profit and is successfully making the transition from a traditionally paper-based business to a digital one, thanks in no small part to the people who work there.”
“Telstra executives need to be accountable for the thousands of Aussies they are putting out of work. We need new obligations on employers like Telstra, to build the skills and increase the employment security of Australian telecommunications workers. And the Government needs a plan that encourages companies like Telstra to maintain its Australian workforce. With billions of public money going to Telstra through the NBN and other government contracts, Australians expect Telstra and the Government to stand up for Aussie jobs.”
The CPSU said Sensis sites earmarked for closure included the following: Penrith, Wollongong, Ballina, NSW Central Coast, Coffs Harbour, Darwin, Cairns, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Townsville, Hobart, Geelong, and Mornington, with significant job losses in Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide and Perth.