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Optus says 450 jobs must go

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By Meaghan Shaw March 17, 2006 AdvertisementAdvertisement

OPTUS will slash 450 jobs across the country in a bid to cut costs amid union fears that positions will be outsourced to India.

Chief executive Paul O'Sullivan notified staff in an email yesterday, but said the number of people who would lose jobs would be closer to 200.

He said the roles cut would be a combination of permanent and contract positions, as well as vacancies that would not be replaced.

A spokeswoman said a state breakdown of job cuts and divisions affected would be decided next week. She said redundancies would not be voluntary.

"Industry pressures mean that we must reduce our costs across the business," she said.

Mr O'Sullivan told staff the telecommunications giant would reduce Debt Management and put resources back on the front line.

He also said Optus would invest in automation that would offer customer service via the web or speech technology.

"We will outsource a few areas where Optus adds little differentiation and we can save considerable cost," he said.

"We have existing customer service functions in India which are working well and we plan to increase these ... (We) are hopeful we can grow them with limited redundancies for Optus employees."

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Communication Workers Union spokesman Colin Cooper warned the company from shifting jobs offshore.

"We would strongly advise them not to do that. We actually think it does impact on their business," he said. "If it does mean job losses in Australia, ultimately that means Australian customers don't support them."

The union will urge the company to minimise the impact on staff.

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"We see the situation similar to the one confronting Telstra," he said.

Telstra announced plans in November to cut 12,000 jobs, or almost a quarter of its total workforce, over five years.

Optus employs about 10,000 workers nationally. The spokeswoman said the redundancies, expected before the end of the company's financial year on March 31, would affect about 2 per cent of staff.

She also refused to rule out further job cuts, saying only that Optus would "continue to look at the business".

Australian shares of Optus' parent, Singapore Telecommunications, rose 2 cents or about 0.9 per cent to a record close yesterday of $2.28.

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