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Mixed messages on Telstra jobs.

 Is it a coincidence that media reports of future Telstra job cuts have appeared on the very day that Telstra announced its half-yearly results for 2014?

Somewhat surprisingly, given ongoing job cuts at the company, those results showed growth in the number of full time employees (and equivalents) over the reporting period due to a net increase of nearly 900 employees over the last 6 months.

Telstra attributed the employment growth to recruitment into the Network Assisted Services (NAS) area as well into NBN related functions. It had been partly offset, it said, by cuts arising from the Operations Review commenced last year.

Meanwhile, the Australian Financial Review carried a report headed “Telstra tipped to outsource 1000 jobs”.

Based on information from “market sources”, the AFR suggested that call centre, procurement, finance and accounting roles were all in the firing line, with a significant number of the job cuts expected to come from Sensis.

Financial markets very much prefer to hear about job cuts than job growth. Analysts at last October’s Investor Day questioned CEO David Thodey closely about the company’s progress in cutting the 1,100 jobs targeted in the Operations Review.

So even if it is not official, news that a further 1000 job losses could be in the pipeline would be reassuring to the market, especially in the face of actual employment growth.

The CWU has queried Telstra about the media reports but has to date received no confirmation as to whether they are accurate. Under the current Enterprise Agreement, Telstra must consult with the CWU and other relevant unions before undertaking such large-scale cuts.

Telstra is not an SPC Ardmona or even a Toyota. Its half-yearly results show it to be in a strong position, even without the rivers of cash that will flow to it over the coming years from the NBN project.

There is no justification for its continuing to drain the local economy of jobs and talent through outsourcing to low-wage countries like the Philippines – the reported destination of the 1,000 jobs that are under threat.

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