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Aussie Telco Silently Shifts Staff Offshore

The Australian IT is reporting on the move by major Australian telco Telstra to move 500 jobs to the Philippines, at least temporarily. While offhsoring of jobs is not normally all that notworthy, the move by one of Australia's largetst IT employers could be a sign of things to come as part of the $11 billion AUD overhaul of the company. It also follows on from a major round of layoffs in one of the IT subsidiaries belonging to the telco (Kaz).

Representatives of the Community and Public Sector Union are not impressed, especially after Telstra has recently been taking out full page newspaper advertisements touting their investment in Australia and keeping jobs locally in Australia. The union claims that Telstra expected to carry out this activity all along, from when they made the decision to make the Australian workers redundant.

There has not been a direct transfer of job responsibility from redundant Australian workers to foreign workers under the Telstra banner. Instead, the transfer has been enabled through a contractor in an arrangement that reeks of the presence of an "old boy's club". TeleTech, the contractor the responsibility was passed to, is a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) company based in Denver, Colorado, which is the former home of the Telstra CEO and many of the company executives that he has appointed. TeleTech's working arrangements with Telstra have been in place for many years, from before the current CEO's arrival, so it may just be an unhappy coincidence that they were selected for this process.

Workers who were laid off from sales support centres in Brisbane, Melbourne and Ballarat have seen their job functions handed over to TeleTech, who then allocated those tasks to part of their 'international workforce' located in the Philippines (as permitted by their arrangement with Telstra). Worsening the situation for the laid off workers, Australian staff have been sent to the Philippines to train the replacement workers.

Telstra said that the movement was to assist with smooth company operation during the $11 billion AUD overhaul, but there was no suggestion as to whether those positions would be brought back onshore at the end of the company transformation.

30 August 2007

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