250 Government call centre jobs to be outsourced

250 Government call centre jobs to be outsourced

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that more than 250 call centre workers at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection are facing the sack as the department transitions its call centre functions to an outsourced provider model.

The Community & Public Services Union is claiming that the move will present a “serious security risk” with no guarantees that the outsourced call centre work would continue to be conducted by Australian workers.

Its expected that the majority of the job losses will occur in the Sydney call centre, where more than 220 staff handle calls about visas, citizenzship and compliance enquiries.

In addition to the Sydney centre, the department currently uses two offshore centres to handle different time zones with 20 call centre workers in London and 12 in Canada. These are also expected to be outsourced to the private sector.

As we reported post budget, it was announced that the Centrelink call centre was to receive an additional 250 staff. In a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, the budget also revealed that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection was to downsize by 250 staff. And those 250 have now been confirmed as directly coming from the call centre!

Department boss Mike Pezzullo commented that “The change to a private provider is still at least 12 months away, and in the meantime we need to continue the valuable work that is performed at these centres in supporting Australia’s economy and our national security.”

The Community and Public Sector Union’s National President Rupert Evans said the decision was “devastating” for the affected workers.

“This is devastating news for more than 250 people who are committed to providing an essential public service.

“They’re concerned not just at losing their jobs, but the serious security and other risks posed by farming their work out for the private sector to chase a profit.

“These call centre staff deal with a wide range of often complex inquiries and have access to extremely sensitive information.

“Given those training and security issues they can’t see how a private operator will result in any outcome other than the department paying a higher price for an inferior service.”

Mr Evans said there was no guarantee that the department’s telephone service would continue to be provided by Australian workers.

“We are particularly concerned that the department has refused to guarantee that the company that wins this tender will use a call centre based in Australia,” Mr Evans said.

“Public services should be locally provided.

“The general public knows that service standards are going to slip further when private interests put their profits above people.

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