Telecom is about to announce it will be shedding 1500 jobs, according to the Labour Party’s communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran, who predicted the redundancies would cause an "economic shock" in New Zealand.
In Parliament today Curran asked Economic Development minister Steven Joyce: "Is he aware that Telecom has said it will soon announce job cuts “well into the hundreds”, with industry indications as high as 1,500, making it the largest loss of jobs from a single New Zealand company in recent decades."
Joyce replied that he didn't know how many people are likely to be made redundant from Telecom but that he is "very confident for the sector, because the information and communications technology sector is probably the sector with the highest demand that is unmet for skilled information and communications technology workers from around the country."
Curran asked if Telecom’s redundancies were "a matter for Government intervention." But Joyce appeared to dismiss this idea.
"I am not quite sure what the member would seek the Government do — ring Telecom up and stop them changing its work programme? Obviously, there is a concern when people have to lose their jobs in an economy, but the reality is that that happens every year. Roughly 250,000 jobs are created and lost every year in the New Zealand economy."
However it does appear that Joyce asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to provide some assistance,. When Curran asked if MBIE staff had approached Telecom offering help with recruitment agencies, he replied:
"[MBIE] has quite possibly approached Telecom, because I made an enquiry from my office, to see if there was any way it could assist to match some of the people who may not be staying at Telecom to any jobs around the country that the organisation is aware of."
At Telecom's half year results in February, Telecom chief executive Simon Moutter said Telecom would cut "hundreds" of jobs over the next 10 months, but he would not talk numbers.
Asked whether that meant jobs cuts would be limited to three figures and no more than 1000 jobs were on the line, Moutter said he was "not willing to be any more specific at this point".
Telecom employs more than 7000 workers.
A Telecom spokesperson told Computerworld earlier today that an announcement about redundancies will not be made today or tomorrow.