Telstra 'may' cut 53 wideband designers

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Telstra 'may' cut 53 wideband designers

Weighs up consolidation of design hubs.

Telstra is proposing to establish “several” new design centres of excellence for its wideband transmission network, in a reorganisation that could incur a net loss of 44 workers.

The carrier has been reviewing its wideband design function since at least April and has now revealed a proposal to "reduce the number of locations that deliver the design solutions our field-based [wideband] staff use to haul and install fibre”.

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

“Instead, we are proposing to create several design centres of excellence which will be complemented by our existing industry partners.

“These centres will adopt a national standard that will help us to reduce process and production variation and deliver better quality work for our customers.”

Wideband transmission services include ISDN voice and data, and other high-speed voice, data and IP products.

Telstra said that if the proposed plan goes ahead, it “may” result in the loss of 53 jobs spread across Ballarat, Hobart and Netley in Adelaide.

However, the carrier said these losses would be partly “offset by the creation of nine new roles in Victoria”.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said it met with Telstra last week “to consult over the proposal”.

A CWU spokesperson said that Telstra characterised the proposed changes as making its design workforce more “flexible” and less complex.

“‘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,” the CWU said.

“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.

“The CWU questioned whether that plan was realistic and will be consulting with members in all areas to assess the levels of work, including overtime, currently being undertaken by Wideband design employees.”

Visionstream also handles some of Telstra's wideband design work as part of a three-year, $250 million deal signed in late July. It has had a hand in wideband design for the past decade.

Telstra cautioned that the proposal is still under discussion and that nothing has been finalised.

“This proposal is subject to an open and thorough period of consultation with employees and their representatives that will take place over the coming weeks,” a spokesperson for the carrier said.

If the proposal proceeds, it will represent the latest in a long line of job cuts at Telstra.

Earlier this month, Telstra sought voluntary redundancies from 120 of its network delivery workers in an effort to trim its technical workforce.

In August, the carrier said it would cut more than 200 jobs across its global finance and service operations businesses, potentially offshoring as many as half of the roles.

In July, it cut 326 customer support roles, with an undisclosed number transferred to the Philippines.

Late last year, it asked 150 workers in its global enterprise and services division to take a voluntary redundancy before Christmas, after shedding some 400 call centre positions.

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