Telstra says closure will go ahead
TELSTRA has hung up on the Grafton community.
About 1pm yesterday afternoon, employees at Telstra’s Grafton Call Centre were told by Business Division general manager Jamie D’Arcy plans to close the centre in November would still go ahead.
The move will render the centre’s 108 employees redundant and strip about $6 million of wages from the local economy.
Call centre employee James Stanmore was present for the announcement and said although the centre’s employees already feared the worst, yesterday’s final twist of the knife was still hard to take.
“There were tears; all the couples who work together in the centre were there, there were tears between them as to what they were going to do next,” Mr Stanmore said.
“I think the fact that the doors will close behind us in eight weeks’ time still won’t be a reality for a while yet, we’ll just keep working, realising each day we’re another day closer to losing our jobs.”
He said once the announcement had been given yesterday, the call centre workers returned to work; a testament to the team’s strong work ethic.
Telstra Country Wide NSW director Sue Passmore confirmed the decision in a statement yesterday afternoon.
“There’s never a good time for such decisions and they are never easy,” Ms Passmore said.
“However we will support our people throughout the process with access to our employee assistance program, relocation assistance and access to other opportunities.”
Ms Passmore also acknowledged the recent opposition to the move by the local community and leaders.
However, yesterday’s decision was met with almost immediate condemnation from those community leaders who felt the telco was walking away from the Grafton community.
Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, slammed the decision and said it revealed Telstra’s contempt for not only its own employees but also for regional Australia.
“By ignoring the unprecedented local campaign to save the local Telstra jobs, Telstra has made it pretty clear how much it values us here in the regions,” Ms Saffin said.
“Telstra will now find it has very poor standing in the local community and faces the loss of a lot of local business.”
Member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell, said he was proud of the strong support given to the workers by the local community but said he was frustrated by Telstra’s lack of commitment to the local area.
“It’s a very disappointing decision by Telstra; they have not honoured the same commitment that the Clarence has given them.”
The centre will close its doors for the last time on November 23.