Union says Telstra planning to axe 14,000 jobs

Von Sandra Rossi

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) Tuesday said the Australian government is secretly planning to axe 14,000 jobs at Telstra.

The union alleges an internal report by Telstra"s chief operations officer Greg Winn outlines plans to axe about 20 percent of the telco"s workforce.

Responding to the claims, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley demanded Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile release the 104-page document before the Senate votes on Telstra legislation later this week.

During question time today, Beazley said: "Isn"t it the case this [document] details up to 14,000 job losses from Telstra including in rural and regional Australia?

"Isn"t it the case the government is keeping this information secret until after legislation for the full privatization of Telstra goes through the Senate? Isn"t this why the government is rushing the Telstra fire sale through the parliament?"

Vaile said he had not seen the document referred to by the CPSU and Labor and denied the government was trying to rush the Telstra sale through parliament.

"I"d have thought the leader of the opposition [would know] that any information such as this is a matter of the Telstra board to decide when to release it," he said.

"I can"t pass comment on the document because I haven"t seen it."

"We have made abundantly clear in this whole debate what we intend to do as far as the delivery of services to regional Australia is concerned and that"s what this government has done since it came into office in 1996."

Communications Minister Helen Coonan has accused the union of running a scare campaign.

"That"s a typical CPSU scare campaign isn"t it?" Coonan said.

"I haven"t seen any documents; I don"t know what they"re talking about and that projection has not been given to me and not mentioned to me by Telstra. "So I"m certainly not going to comment on hypotheticals."