news Former long-term Telstra staff member Rod Bruem has criticised the “massive wave” of offshoring that has occurred under the last two CEOs.
Making his comments in an opinion piece in industry newsletter Communications Day, Bruem said due to the large number of jobs sent overseas, “long suffering” Telstra customers may find “simple requests” resolved adequately “most of the time”.
However, he added: “Give them anything complex like reporting a mobile base station is down on a neighbouring rural property and they just have no idea. They’ll wish you a nice day and then nothing happens.”
The journalist, who worked 16 years in Telstra’s communications and public policy unit, said the “bulk” of the offshoring occurred under previous CEO David Thodey, but “Penn has continued it”.
Penn, he said, has taken up the reins at a “challenging shop” where a good portion of his bonus is based on improving the company’s “poor reputation for service”.
“But most of the people at the front counter don’t actually work for him. They’re all overseas contractors,” said Bruem.
The writer is not unsympathetic to the foreign workers to whom the jobs have gone. “[Y]ou’re dealing with big and complex systems in challenging environments. It’s not easy for a low-paid worker with a moderate understanding of Australian English,” he said.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) did not directly respond, but said that the offshoring model that Telstra has adopted relies on an “ultimately arbitrary distinction between low level and higher level tasks”.
“While such categories as simplex and complex have long had their use in the company, when they become the basis of creating two separate workforces they are likely to act as a barrier to problem solving,” the union said.
Image credit: Telstra