'Digitisation and automation': Optus to make 440 staff redundant
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'Digitisation and automation': Optus to make 440 staff redundant

Singtel Optus will cut 440 employees from its workforce in the next two months as the telecommunications company turns to digitisation and automation in an increasingly competitive mobile environment putting pressure on revenues.

The telco's staff were told on Wednesday morning, in an email and meetings, about the changes to the workforce which were blasted as a disgrace by the union. The overall impact on the business' headcount is so far unclear as some additional roles are expected to be created.

Optus has told staff it will be cutting another 440 people from the telco's ranks.

Optus has told staff it will be cutting another 440 people from the telco's ranks.

Photo: Supplied

An Optus spokesman told Fairfax Media the telecommunications company had made the cuts as part of turning the business into a "mobile-led, digital service provider".

"As we continue to evolve the way we work, do business and fund future investments we are removing duplication, improving our operating efficiency and embracing next-generation technologies, like digitisation and automation to achieve this goal," he said.

"We are speaking with affected employees first, and discussing redeployment opportunities where available."

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Optus chief executive Allen Lew told staff in an email this was part of the company's IDAHO mantra, an acronym that stands for I Drive Accountability and a Healthy Organisation.

"To realise our vision to become a world class, digital service provider that puts our customers at the heart of everything we do, we are making further changes to our organisational structure," Mr Lew said.

We will also be introducing new and different ways of working to remain competitive and continually deliver game-changing customer experiences

Optus CEO Allen Lew

These changes are across Networks, Wholesale and Satellite businesses and include combining Brand and Communications and Digital Marketing together. There will also be collaboration across other teams.

"We will also be introducing new and different ways of working to remain competitive and continually deliver game-changing customer experiences," Mr Lew said.

"This will create efficiencies and establish a more sustainable cost base."

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New roles will be created in the front line, regional teams and Agile Digital Hub, with some "strategic IT roles" to be insourced.

The CEPU Communications Union national president Shane Murphy said the announcement was “utterly devastating” for workers.

“Optus has now axed over 1000 jobs in four months. This is a disgrace,” Mr Murphy said.

“Optus Management is showing clear contempt for its workforce by continuing to slash hundreds of jobs with absolutely no consultation with the workforce, while they’ve been sitting at the table with the union to bargain for a new Enterprise Agreement."

In May, Optus announced plans to cut 400 staff from its ranks - predominantly in administration and management - as part of 'IDAHO'.

The recently created term is used regularly by the telco's executives to describe a new "work style" that includes focusing on automation in the business. In the same month, the telco closed its subsidiary brand Virgin Mobile, cutting 200 jobs and closing 36 stores.

At the end of the first quarter to June 30, Optus had about 8370 staff including retail employees, with about 2000 core staff. A year ago, another 320 jobs were cut across the business.

Australia's biggest telco Telstra announced it would cut a quarter of its workforce, about 8000 employees, as part of strategy as it grapples with the roll out of the National Broadband Network and intensifying mobile competition.

Earlier in August, Mr Lew told Fairfax Media cost optimisation had become "the unfortunate reality of our industry".

Jennifer Duke writes about media and telecommunications.

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