Hundreds of Centrelink workers laid off

Services Australia slashed its headcount as its COVID-19 response strategy eases

Hundreds of Centrelink workers laid off

At least 600 call-centre workers contracted by Services Australia have reportedly lost their jobs at Centrelink, joining thousands of out-of-work Australians who are seeking welfare support through the government agency.

The Age earlier reported that about 420 agents in Mill Park and Dandenong in Victoria – who were hired through the UK public services contractor Serco – have been terminated.

“Following recent contract discussions with Services Australia, the after-hours processing work will not form part of the new contract from October 30,” a Serco representative said. However, the contractor might reassign laid-off workers to other companies.

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Meanwhile, another 180 Centrelink workers in Sydney – who were enlisted through IT service provider Datacom – will also be retrenched. Both Serco and Datacom contract workers will report for duty until 30 October.

During Datacom’s contract renewal process with Services Australia, the government agency reportedly decided to end the “ramp phase”.

“As such, Sydney’s footprint will be reduced and subsequently your position with us will cease effective as of 31st October 2020,” an email from Datacom general manager Hadi Joweihan said.

Read more: Australian companies hiring thousands despite economic slowdown

While only permanent employees are entitled to receive a redundancy package, the contract workers will get paid for hours worked and entitlements accrued.

“These positions were predominantly short-term contract roles needed to support essential services during the national COVID-19 outbreak response and, as that need has waned, our contract with the customer has come to an end,” a Datacom spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

Datacom also said it is “working proactively” with employment partners and outplacement agencies in searching for opportunities for their contract workers in this “difficult climate”.

Bill Shorten, shadow minister for government services, is questioning the Federal Government over the latest public-sector job cuts.

“The Morrison government preach a lot about ‘Team Australia’, but are quite happy to give other Australians the boot,” Shorten said on Twitter.

Services Australia, however, clarified that the government agency does not handle staffing concerns among contract workers.

“It’s important to note our service delivery partners are, and have always been, responsible for managing their own staffing levels in order to meet the contracted work and other requirements,” Services Australia General Manager Hank Jongen said in a statement .


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