Telecom denies it will cull more staff

TOM PULLER-STRECKER
Last updated 09:22 29/03/2013

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Telecom has dismissed a claim from Labour that it plans to lay off up to another 1000 staff on top of the jobs cuts it signalled yesterday.

Telecom said it would shed between 930 and 1230 full-time jobs by the end of June, taking its workforce down from 7530 "full-time equivalents" at the start of the year to between 6300 and 6600.

Labour's claim of a futher 1000 job losses was based partly on an email sent to communications spokeswoman Clare Curran by a disaffected Telecom staffer, who Curran said was "relatively senior".

It claimed "each department" at Telecom had been asked to make cuts of 20-30 per cent.

Curran said she had been separately told Telecom planned a second round of job cuts to more senior management in September.

Both claims were brushed off by Telecom spokesman Andrew Pirie who said that Telecom did not expect to make further jobs cuts this calendar year, beyond those it announced yesterday.

Pirie said Curran was "playing politics". Telecom "understood that" but it was not a game in which the company wanted to engage, he said.

"It is a very dynamic market and we are continually looking at what we might want to do with the business, so we could never say 'never'.

"But the plan is as we have outlined it," he said. "We have obligations to explain the situation to the market, which we have done in what I think are clear terms. That is our position and we stand by that."

Deutsche Bank analyst Arie Dekker said the announced cuts were in line with his expectations, but were being confirmed a little earlier than he had expected.

Further job cuts were likely "over the next couple of years", he believed.

However, analyst J P Morgan said in a research note that it might be "simplistic" to assume there was much more potential for job cuts. It speculated Telecom could still be contemplating exiting Australian subsidiary AAPT as it was "capital intensive" and contributing little in the way of earnings.

The email sent to Curran complained Telecom employees had been asked to reduce their accrued leave to no more than 12 days by the end of the financial year, to reduce redundancy costs.

Pirie said the philosophy of chief executive Simon Moutter was that leave was granted in order to be taken, to give people a needed break from work, and it was inappropriate for people to accrue "huge amounts of leave". But he had not personally seen such a directive.

Telecom's Auckland head office is likely to bear the brunt of cuts announced yesterday.

The figures include the loss of about 120 jobs at the Australian branch of Telecom's Gen-i technology division which were announced earlier this month. But Pirie said all the other cuts would be in New Zealand.

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The cuts would disproportionately affect management and corporate functions such as finance, and human resources. "Those are essentially in Auckland and Wellington and the majority of those are in Auckland," he said.

Telecom shares closed up 2 cents at $2.34 yesterday. 

- Stuff

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