Telstra flags redundancies in Defence contract


news The nation’s largest telco has flagged a small redundancy and redeployment round as part of its huge $1.1 billion contract with the Department of Defence, in the latest set of job cuts that appear to be sweeping across Australia’s technology and telecommunications industries.

Telstra won the Defence contract in April 2013. At the time, the six-and-a-half year contract represented the “largest customer undertaking” Telstra had ever taken on, according to then Telstra CEO David Thodey and involved the creation of 350 new jobs in Telstra. It covers a broad swathe of telecommunications and technology services being supplied to Defence.

Last week the Communications Workers Union noted that it had met with Telstra to discuss proposed changes to Telstra’s staffing on the deal.

The union said: “Telstra has now notified the union that following an internal review of this area of its business it has made an initial decision to make the following changes: A reduction of 24 roles across Service Operations and Business Enablement; The creation of 7 new roles; And movement of some teams of employees into the relevant areas of Telstra, in Telstra Operations or Global Services.”

The CWU said the last changes — movement of employees — were “reporting line changes only” and would not have a significant impact on employees.

“The CWU met with Telstra over these changes on Wednesday 16 March,” the union said. “Telstra told the union that the number of roles affected is now 23 rather than 24 and that the bulk are located in Canberra with a small number in Melbourne (in Procurement and GES). There is no offshoring or outsourcing involved. ”

The CWU said that employees working in this area (Defence) were generally required to have security clearances and, as Telstra had acknowledged, this is one good reason for keeping them in the company.

The union believes that Telstra should be aiming for a high level of retention of these staff – depending, of course, on employees’ own preferences. It said that CWU members affected by this restructure and wanting advice on their options should contact their state branch.

The news comes just months after Telstra had been conducting separate redundancy rounds.

On October 27th, Telstra informed the CWU about proposed operational changes that would result in making 480 positions redundant. According to a CWU statement at the time, the union was “shocked” by the scale of these redundancies since the enterprise agreement that was supposed to promote job security was inked only recently.

This is not the first time that Telstra has taken such steps. In 2013, it was revealed that more than 10,000 overseas contractors were working for Telstra when the company was slashing jobs at home to help boost profit. This represented about 26 per cent of the telco’s then full-time workforce of 38,000, underscoring the extent of an aggressive outsourcing program to tap staff in low-cost countries.

In February, 2014, Telstra sent another 1,000 to Philippines and India, following a review by two management consulting firms. At that time, Telstra’s unions had heavily criticised it for not treating the Australian workforce fairly in its pursuit of ongoing profit growth.

Image credit: Telstra