Profit at the major telco slipped this year. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
Profit at the major telco slipped this year. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Telstra hiring 1000 as complaints surge

Telstra has recently invited stood down Qantas staffers to apply for more than 1000 positions in its call centres to help deal with what it's calling unprecedented demand.

The positions are temporary and intended to manage call centre volume, which has quickly become an important issue for the telco.

Some of the unprecedented network demand is already having an impact as people around the country reported problems on the Telstra network on Tuesday morning.

Telstra hasn't put anything on its website or even sent a Tweet, but online "real-time status and outage information" site DownDetector shows a surge in people reporting problems this morning, with complaints going into the hundreds.

Telstra's overseas call centres are currently understaffed and the telco has warned there will be delays for customers looking for help.

Australia's biggest telco has also hit pause on planned job cuts for six months as well as freezing late payment fees and disconnections.

Half a billion dollars the company planned to spend next financial year will be brought forward to increase network capacity and accelerate the 5G rollout.

Increasing network capacity has quickly become an important task for Telstra as more people, including around 20,000 Telstra staff, now work from home, placing increased demand on Telstra and other telco's capacity on the national broadband network.

The NBN announced last week that telcos would be given a pass on extra capacity charges up to an additional 40 per cent.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the changes could hurt the company's financials but as one of Australia's biggest businesses, the telco had a responsibility to "show leadership and contribute to the national response".

"While it is critical we maintain a strong position we also believe there are a range of additional initiatives we can undertake now to help support the broader economy," he said.

Telstra small business and personal customers have a reprieve if they can't pay their bills and the telco won't charge late fees or disconnect customers until at least the end of April, at which point it will review that policy.

Qantas workers are being invited to apply for the new call centre jobs after two-thirds of them were stood down due to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the travel industry.

Telstra had planned to cut 8000 jobs but still had 1100 of those to go last month.

Complaints surged as people began logging on this morning.
Complaints surged as people began logging on this morning.

The cuts have been put on hold but Mr Penn said the "productivity program" designed to save the telco $2.5 billion a year by July 2022 will continue.

Meanwhile, Vodafone has announced it will shut a number of retail stores in Sydney.

The Vodafone store on level one of the Bondi Junction Westfield was immediately closed yesterday after hearing word an employee at the store had been in contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.

The company said the employee and others at the store are now self isolating but haven't shown any symptoms at this stage.

The level five store remains open.

Stores at Pitt Street Mall, QVB, North Sydney, Chatswood, North Ryde, Manly, Castle Hill and Ultimo have also been temporarily closed, as have all airport stores.

Staff at those stores are being redeployed to call centres so Vodafone can "better support our customers".

Vodafone is also hiring additional employees at its call centre in Hobart to address "higher than normal call volumes and reduced agent availability at our centres in India", the company said in a statement on Monday night.

Telcos are under pressure as people rely on the services to work from home and stay in touch with the friends and family members they can’t visit.
Telcos are under pressure as people rely on the services to work from home and stay in touch with the friends and family members they can’t visit.

IT services could potentially become a saviour for some who have lost their jobs if they have the required skills.

A travel ban was brought into place in Australia on Friday preventing anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident from coming into the country.

Imported workers are believed to be a major source for IT companies.

The tech sector raised concerns about access to imported talent in 2018 when the government ended the 457 Visa scheme and replaced it with the Temporary Skill Shortages Visa, almost halving the amount of workers allowed to receive it.

A total of 2758 new listings have been posted on job site Seek for roles in the Information and Communication Technology industry in the past week, second only - unsurprisingly - to health and medical care workers.

- With wires

Originally published as Telstra hiring 1000 as complaints surge



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