Alcatel-Lucent cuts 100 Australian staff

Ten per cent culled from local offices due to NBN uncertainty

Alcatel-Lucent has cut 100 staff from its Australian operations, citing an uncertain telecommunications industry.

The decision - amounting to nearly ten per cent of its local employees - came at the same time as the company announced an $85 million deal with NBN Co to supply gigabit passive optical network (GPON) and Ethernet aggregation equipment for the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The Australian branch of the company dropped 200 staff last October, at the time also pointing to uncertainty in the sector.

A spokesperson said the company was “currently reviewing costs and rebalancing workforce requirements for the second half of 2010” but that it would not “impact our delivery capability”.

“This year we need to respond to uncertainty over a number of previous years across the Australian telecommunications market, as we all get ready for the opportunities and growth ahead,” they said in an email.

Australiasia chief technical officer, Ric Clark, recently told Computerworld Australia the local telecommunications industry was largely held in check by NBN Co and the rollout of the NBN.

“Things are pretty tight at the moment,” he said. “We're battening down the hatches for the moment in anticipation of something finally happening with the NBN.

“The only people that are really hiring in our industry is NBN Co itself, they've got a real mixed bag of people out of virtually all of the vendors and a number of the telcos.”

Some of that uncertainty is partially derived from whether the NBN rollout will continue under future governments. The Opposition has already promised to scrap the project but is yet to outline an alternative broadband plan.

While the effect was uncertainty, Clark said the NBN would continue to provide a “net benefit to the industry”.

The company posted a €515 million ($735 million) loss globally for the first quarter of 2010, with its networks segment hit hardest at 13.1 per cent loss.

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