Telstra is still only halfway through its current cost cutting programme, according to Robert Nason, the chief architect of Project New. And that, he says, means more job cuts are in the pipeline.
Nason is currently Telstra’s group executive for business support and improvement. Interviewed in the Weekend Australian of 8-9 November, he revealed that Telstra was looking to take a further $5 billion in costs out of the company over the next five years.
Would that mean more job losses?
Absolutely, says Nason, who has overseen the decline of Telstra’s full time and equivalent staff numbers by some 10,000 that has occurred since 2011.
“There will be further areas of our business that will be in decline where we will have to make people redundant.”
Welcome to Project New Everlasting, which Nason says is not so much a particular project as a way of life – though hardly one that will create enthusiasm in Telstra’s current workforce or encourage new recruits into the industry.
Telstra employees know well enough that the “productivity” gains of which Nason boasts are too often being achieved through outsourcing, offshoring and increased pressure on remaining employees through continual performance monitoring and measurement.
The CWU constantly receives reports from the field about the operational inefficiencies this approach is producing.
Nason says that part of the challenge facing Telstra is to “get better at reskilling people” so they can be redeployed into the company’s growth areas.
The CWU agrees. This is what the Commonwealth is currently paying Telstra $100 million to do, at least in relation to NBN-affected roles.
But Telstra also needs to acknowledge that there is a limit to its ability to simply “do more with less”, that automation, such as that of dispatch functions, can bring its own costs and that the hollowing out of technical capacities through offshoring is not in either its own or the national interest.