More call centre jobs cut as Telstra ends Vertex contract

Up to 250 jobs terminated

Up to 250 jobs will be dismissed at a call centre in East Bentleigh, Melbourne operated by global information and communication company, Vertex, following the ending of a major contract with Telstra (ASX: TLS).

Australian Services Union (ASU) Victoria branch secretary, Ingrid Stitt, told Computerworld Australia that it believed the Vertex jobs would go offshore.

"We have a number of people at Vertex who are members of the union and they’re obviously very distressed," she said.

"We are trying to organise a meeting with Vertex to discuss redeployment options but they have not responded to our calls."

Vertex also operates a call centre in Ballarat, where 600 workers were hired last year in the city for a technical and customer support centre built at a cost of $11.5 million.

Stitt said it is a worrying trend if more call centre jobs head offshore.

"There have been studies around how call centres could be a major growth opportunity for Australia," she said. "Given that the government awards contracts, it is time to reverse this trend."

She said another unfortunate aspect of the redundancies was that many of the workers were on fixed-term contracts.

"When call centres are relying on one major contract, they [workers] are in the firing line," she said.

A Vertex spokeswoman said the company did not wish to comment on the redundancies.

A Telstra spokeswoman confirmed in a statement that it was tendering the call centre contract but would not say if if overseas companies had placed bids for it.

The cuts come in the wake of an announcement yesterday by Salmat that 750 employees will lose their jobs in Bundaberg, Geelong and Wagga Wagga, and the metropolitan centre in Surry Hills as it lost a contract with the telco giant.

A Salmat spokesperson said he understood the Telstra decision was an economic one.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags job cutsVertexAustralian Services Union (ASU)ASU Ingrid StittcareerstelcosTelstra

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