Tech jobs hit hard at TelstraClear

Technical and networking jobs are hardest hit in TelstraClear's 650 redundancies, and the rollout of the former TelstraSaturn IP network in Christchurch has been put on hold.

Technical and networking jobs are hardest hit in TelstraClear’s 650 redundancies, and the rollout of the former TelstraSaturn IP network in Christchurch has been put on hold.

Chief executive Rosemary Howard says rather than “laying cables in the ground”, the telco is shifting focus towards sales and marketing.

“We are not going to be acting like a vertically integrated incumbent telco. We want to buy off others in the markets where it makes better sense.”

Howard says when Telstra-Saturn bought Clear it inherited networks in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland and now is rethinking requirements to avoid overbuilding.

Consequently, the Christchurch IP network is “paused” until TelstraClear decides how best to supply IP services, possibly using other providers.

Howard says TelstraClear already provides services in conjunction with others, such as Sky TV (for television) and Vodafone (mobile services).

“We want to explore wholesale opportunities with Telecom to do the same with it,” says Howard.

The company last week confirmed 490 layoffs resulting directly from the merger between TelstraSaturn and Clear Communications, in addition to TelstraSaturn’s axing of 160 in December. Jobs were lost equally across Wellington and Auckland, she says, with some Christchurch losses offset by new positions at a contact centre. The job losses represent about a third of the combined companies’ 1800 staff.

The company rejects media reports that up to 200 personal grievance claims have been arisen from the redundancy process, saying there are fewer than a dozen. That reflects well on the restructuring process, Howard says, which has resulted in 25% to 30% of staff suggestions being incorporated into the new company.

“We haven’t done everything perfectly, but we have done it appropriately and fast. We have said to staff we may have cut too deep in some areas, but you avoid cutting later. But if [we have cut too far], we will hire back up. But this way, we have given certainty to everybody.”

Recruitment agencies say those dumped by TelstraClear face a tough job market, but their impact has been lessened by the fact that redundancies happened gradually over six months.

Recruitment firm Spherion is representing TelstraClear staff from “middle to senior” positions. Consultant Ann McKenzie says she is receiving up to 100 applicants a job because Telecom has also been laying people off.

Robert Walters Auckland manager Glenn Bratton, who is working for a small number of ex-TelstraClear staff, says the gradual nature of the redundancies will have little effect on the market or on contracting rates, whereas a sudden dumping would. He says there are few telecomms jobs around.

  • Hewlett-Packard says it is still designing the structure of its new organisation, following its acquisition of Compaq. HR manager Bridget O’Shannessy says managers are still assessing the requirements of the company and it is impossible to comment on time frames or numbers of job losses. Globally the company has said 10% of staff would go, though Australasia head Paul Brandling has suggested the number in this region could reach 15%. The combined company employs about 600 in New Zealand.

Email Darren Greenwood

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Tags redundancies

More about Clear CommunicationsCompaqHewlett-Packard AustraliaSaturnSpherionTelstraClearTelstra CorporationTelstraSaturnVodafone

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