Labour questions Kordia job cuts

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 10:56 26/10/2012

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The Labour Party has acknowledged Kordia is still bound by the "social responsibility clause" of the State Owned Enterprises Act but says it still plans to question the firm about its plan, announced yesterday, to axe 59 jobs.

Labour communications spokeswoman Clare Curran said the Government was "missing an opportunity to treat its state-owned telco as being the flagship for the delivery of ultrafast broadband".

Kordia plans to outsource the call centre of internet provider Orcon, which Kordia acquired in 2007, to Wellington-based Datacom, which would transfer the work and about 50 jobs to Manila. Another nine administrative jobs may go as Kordia integrates Orcon with its broader telecommunications business.

Curran said yesterday that the call centre job cuts had resulted from National removing the social responsibility clause "which ensures SOEs have to take into account community interests".

She today acknowledged Kordia was still bound by the clause, but said it had been undermined by National's plan to remove the obligation from companies such as Mighty River Power that it intended to sell down into a "mixed ownership model".

"What I am saying is what that means is other SOEs are taking their lead from that."

Curran said she hoped to meet with Kordia chief executive Geoff Hunt to discuss the company's plans. "Orcon is an agile and nimble organisation but it could probably do with a bit more help, and a bit more strategic input." Comment has been sought from State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall.

Orcon chief executive Scott Bartlett, who will take up an expanded role at Kordia as head of its new merged telecommunication division, said yesterday that many affected call centre staff would probably find jobs at Australia's second-largest broadband provider, iiNet, which operates a 300-person call centre in Auckland servicing its customers in Australia.

IiNet customer service manager Mat Conn confirmed iiNet and Orcon had "been in touch" regarding Kordia's outsourcing move and that iiNet would provide affected staff with the opportunity to apply for positions in its Auckland call centre.

"We're always looking for great staff to join our team to help us deliver the awesome customer service we're known for," he said.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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