The rising use of online transactions could mean next time you call Telstra, you’ll be less likely to hear a local voice.
Telstra chief David Thodey told the company’s annual general meeting on Tuesday that 40 per cent of customer transactions were completed online in 2013.
That compares with 30 per cent in 2012.
“This means our contact centre work is declining quickly and will continue to do so,” he said in Sydney.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says Telstra is replacing local staff with overseas workers at a rapid rate.
The union points to the telco’s decision to shed 1100 jobs from its Australian operations department by June 2014.
It also claims there are at least 10,250 people working offshore on Telstra business “on any one shift”.
A handful of Telstra staff and CPSU members used the company’s AGM to protest against recent job cuts and offshoring.
The union’s Teresa Davison says Telstra’s use of funds from the public purse means it’s responsible to taxpayers as well as shareholders.
Telstra said the business was changing to focus on increased productivity.
“While we have proposed that parts of our operations workforce reduce by around 1100 jobs by June next year, we have made other announcements that could see close to 1000 jobs added in other areas,” spokesman Scott Whiffen said in a statement.
Telstra worker John Bellingham’s job is safe for now but he turned out in support of dumped and at-risk colleagues.
“His job is likely to go to India,” Mr Bellingham said, referring to a colleague.
“He was talking to me to see if there was any jobs in my section.
“I don’t know if it’s something he’d be able to slot into but I put his name forward.”
The union believes shareholders are concerned about the welfare of Telstra staff, but shareholder Vince Smith said he wasn’t fully abreast of the job cuts and was concerned about share prices.
“I’m always concerned about job costs and I’m also … hoping the share price will go up,” he said on his way into the meeting.
“I bought in at $7 and now it seems like the company is kind of struggling.”
Telstra shares added seven cents to $5 on Tuesday.