Telstra have confirmed plans that they are axing 326 call centre jobs from their Perth and Melbourne centres. A Telstra spokesperson confirmed that the Perth call centre is being completely closed with 94 call centre jobs disappearing and in Melbourne, at least 140 jobs will be slashed. The latest cuts come on top of about 400 job losses announced by Telstra in October at its call centres in Hobart, Launceston, Perth, Ballarat and Townsville.
Despite claims that the job cuts are due to about ’50 percent of all customer transactions now being completed online’, the reality is that customers are still seeking telephone support and Telstra are simply shifting the workload to a lower cost base in their Phillipines centre. In April 2015 Telstra announced a 3,500 seat call centre based in the Philippines as part of partnership with global outsourcer Teletech.
According to the CPSU, the union that continues to represent the majority of Telstra workers, Telstra have offshored a total of 10,000 roles since they have been keeping tabs on it.
The Perth call centre has been on Telstra’s radar before when back in 2014, the then CEO David Thodey suggested that half of the complaints made about their call centres related to the staff in Perth.
Whilst for a lot of us we simply shrug our shoulders and shake our heads, the reality is that these job losses continue to devastate local communities. These jobs impact real people and real businesses and in a broader sense, the entire Australian economy. Just ask the local cafe’s how the impact of hundreds of less people coming to work everyday will impact them.
The reality is that ripping thousand of jobs out of any industry has consequences. Unfortunately as an industry we have just sat back and watched it happen and don’t even give as much as a whimper.
Businesses certainly have a right to choose the level of customer service they provide to customers. Telstra have made it crystal clear that their biggest customer is the shareholders and they will continue to pursue ways to improve their profit margins. We’ve reported previously on why so many Australian call centre jobs are going offshore with cost the single most defining issue. I’m yet to find any one individual who will claim that the quality of service for customers is better handled off shore. More cost effective, sure. But quality, no chance.
While Telstra continue to have the best network (although with the number of recent outages this may be diminishing) they can afford to be arrogant and place profit first. But their opposition is using this to their advantage. Matt Patterson, General Manager of Vodafone Customer Care, announced back in 2014 that Australian-based customer service sets us apart from our competitors. Were putting service ahead of profits thats what our customers want. They want to be able to speak to an Australian, and they want to help create jobs in Australia. Thats important to us too.
Tasmania and Vodafone customers have been the winner of that strategy with hundreds of new call centre jobs along with businesses involved in building the new centre and of course the local economy with hundreds of people employed all spending money in and around Tasmania. And as for Vodafone customers, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman latest report indicated a total of 1,923 complaints in total for Vodafone, compared to 15,080 for Telstra.
And according to research by Budde Comm, “Vodafone has arrested the long decline in its subscriber base, reporting a 2.6% year-on-year growth in its subscriber base in the year to June 2016, discounting MVNO customers. The gains indicate that the companys significant investment in recent years, and strategy for growth under new leadership, is paying dividends”.
Ultimately customers will the sole arbitrator of what strategy is the correct one but as a political party once said, lets keep the bastards honest.