Telstra must help every worker affected by job cuts at its Sensis division to find a new job, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said.
Rudd made the comments on the Seven Network on Friday, following the announcement by Telstra that 648 employees – one in five staff – would be made redundant.
The job losses come predominately from the Telco’s Sensis division, which comprises the Yellow Pages, White Pages and Trading Post – publications which have now been largely replaced by their online counterparts. The jobs are largely call centre staff, back of office staff, and those who design work for the ads and print material.
Sensis Australia managing director John Allan said the cuts were regrettable, but ultimately the business model was unsustainable. “Until now we have been operating with an out-dated print-based model – this is no longer sustainable for us,” he said in a statement. “Already, more than 60 per cent of our customers now are advertising online and in mobile apps… We need to simplify our operation and invest in areas that make us more efficient, and meet our customers’ growing demand for online and mobile services.”
There has been speculation that some jobs may be destined for offshore, prompting Rudd to comment that examples of US companies in similar circumstances has demonstrated that outsourcing isn’t always cheaper. “The old assumption that the only place you can do this sort of work is offshore is itself being challenged by new technologies,” he told Seven.
He also called on the Telco to assist those who have lost their job to find a new one. “The key question for Telstra this morning is helping each and every one of those 600-plus workers find a new job. That's a corporate responsibility.”
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey didn’t agree – he said while he was disappointed for the families, the changes were inevitable. “It just seems that we've all been beaten by the technology when it comes to the jobs ... and I can understand where Telstra is coming from,” Hockey said. “This is just one of the changes in life that we've all got to endure at the moment.”
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