The union that leaked news Telstra was cutting 1400 jobs has accused the telco of 'ambushing workers'

Telstra CEO, Andy Penn (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The body representing telecommunications workers says Telstra “ambushed” workers “without any prior notice”, despite months of planning by executives.

After news broke of the sackings earlier in the day, the Communication Workers Union accused Telstra of not telling them about the changes, even though the sackings were first reported from of a leak by a CWU official.

“Telstra has clearly prioritised the impact of this decision on their share price above the ethical obligation to speak with workers about their decision – the first we heard of it was in the news,” claimed CWU national secretary Greg Rayner.

CWU national president Shane Murphy said the job cuts have a “devastating” impact on the terminated workers, and put Telstra’s quality of customer service and repairs in doubt.

“They simply will no longer have the workforce to get the job done so people can look forward to much longer wait times and frustration with increased outages – there is just no way around that conclusion.”

Union officials and Telstra management have a meeting pre-arranged for 2pm Thursday, but the Murphy accused the telco of ignoring CWU’s attempts at dialogue on Wednesday and instead being preoccupied broadcasting a Facebook Live video.

“It says something about their priorities that they were too busy getting the technical issues sorted to live stream a press conference, [than] to speak with workers and their union representatives,” he said.

In a note to staff, Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the company was forced to trim the workforce because of “digital disruption” and the rollout of the NBN.

“We need to transform, urgently. This is particularly the case where [digital disruption] trends are combined with the increased competitive pressures and the accelerated rollout of the NBN,” he said in the memo.

“This means we will need to become a leaner organisation, one built on digitised systems and services for customers and employees, and one where we will continue to rely on partners for scale.”

Last year, Telstra flagged its intention to find $1 billion in cost savings over five years and started trimming staff numbers in smaller increments in the last six months.

Now read: This is the memo Telstra’s CEO sent to staff about cutting 1400 jobs

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