Telstra decides to close Grafton centre

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Telstra decides to close Grafton centre
Protestors at a Grafton community rally on Saturday. Credit: CPSU

Concludes two-week consultation with staff and unions.

Telstra has decided to close its 108-seat business contact centre in Grafton, NSW in November.

The decision was announced today, following a two-week consultation with staff and unions.

It came despite a petition led by local MP Janelle Saffin, which attracted 6,000 signatures, and the support of independent MP Rob Oakeshott.

Oakeshott said yesterday that he was surprised that Telstra had chosen "this moment to centralise these jobs", highlighting the cost of redundancy packages and the benefits of regional staff.

Today, Telstra Country Wide NSW director Sue Passmore made the decision official.

"There's never a good time for these decisions and they are never easy," she said.

"Telstra acknowledges the representations made by community leaders over the past fortnight and we will work with them as we endeavour to find new opportunities for Grafton call centre staff."

The closure was expected to create 93 call centre jobs in Melbourne and Brisbane, where Telstra planned to establish "major, 200-seats-plus" facilities.

Earlier this month, a spokesman told iTnews that Telstra would offer relocation, retraining or redundancy packages to affected staff as it moved to centralise business call centre operations.

The telco had job openings in Lismore, Newcastle, Brisbane and Melbourne call centres, as well as in local Telstra Country Wide branches.

Passmore said it would continue to maintain a local presence in Grafton with a workforce of approximately 50 non-call centre staff, contractors and partners.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) condemned the decision today, noting that Grafton would lose one of its largest employers.

"Telstra staff campaigned hard over the last few weeks to hang on to their jobs," said CPSU assistant national secretary Louise Persse.

"They had the strong support of customers, unions, community groups, local politicians, the Chamber of Commerce and the local media.

"But with an arrogance that is now sadly typical of Telstra, these concerns were ignored."

Persse said the decision would hurt the community, and the union would support efforts to "persuade Telstra to meet its responsibilities to regional Australia".

Telstra's Passmore argued that Telstra's investment was "well ahead of any of our telco competitors" in regional Australia.

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