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Telstra to lean on wideband design partners as job cuts loom

Telstra to lean on wideband design partners as job cuts loom

53 jobs around Australia could be cut in the telco's Design Centres of Excellence proposal

Australia’s largest telco, Telstra, is aiming to lean on its industry partners in the development of its wideband design capabilities as part of a plan that could see the loss of 44 jobs around the country.

The company confirmed on 19 September that it intends to reduce the number of its sites around Australia that deliver the design solutions used by its field-based staff to haul and install fibre-optic cabling.

“Currently, this function is performed by people in different locations around Australia, using different processes which result in the standard of work,” a Telstra spokesperson told ARN.

“Instead, we are proposing to create several Design Centres of Excellence which will be complemented by our existing industry partners.”

Telstra’s wideband design partners include Visionstream which, in late July, signed a three-year, $250 million contract with Telstra to deliver its wideband services across the country.

The company also signed a $350 million, five-year contract with the telco in April to supply maintenance and building services to more than 40,000 exchange and network assets around the country.

Telstra said its proposed centres will adopt a national standard that will help it to reduce process and production variation and deliver better quality work for its customers.

If the plan goes ahead, it could result in the loss of 53 roles across Ballarat, Hobart, and Netley in Adelaide which, in turn, would be offset by the creation of nine new roles in Victoria, Telstra has revealed. In total, 44 jobs may be lost.

According to the Communications Workers Union (CSU), the proposed site closures would see 27 jobs go from Netley in South Australia, seven jobs from Hobart, Tasmania, and 19 jobs from Ballarat in Victoria.

The proposal remains subject to an open period of consultation with employees and their representatives, according to Telstra.

From the CSU’s perspective, the proposal could hit jobs in areas that are already facing high unemployment rates, such as Hobart and Netley.

At the same time, the union suggests that the proposed site closures are part of a larger exercise by the telco to make its design workforce more flexible and less complex – a scenario that could lead to outsourcing.

“‘Flexibility’ is usually code for greater use of external workers, i.e. outsourcing, and Telstra has already outsourced substantial amounts of its wideband design work, including to India-based Cyient,” said the CSU in a statement.

“In this case, though, Telstra says that no work will be outsourced – at least initially. Instead it will be absorbed by the remaining design workforce.

“Telstra says the centres in question are now only responsible for a small proportion of the total wideband design output. But why is that?” the union said.

“Presumably, earlier outsourcing exercises have played some part in the decline in work volumes in these areas.”

The proposed cuts come as Australia's second largest telco, Optus, sheds workers in its networking division following the automation of a number of the company's internal processes.

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