By NERIDA BLOK firstname.lastname@example.org
PAULA ANDERSON and seven Ballina workmates yesterday became the first of 12,000 people to feel the Telstra axe when the giant telco closed its Trading Post office.
Just five weeks before Christmas, company officials walked into the Tamar Street office and told staff the call centre was closing immediately. Telstra owns the Trading Post through its company Sensis. It is believed centre closures also took place in Newcastle and Wollongong. Staff will be offered redeployment to other cities.
Last week, Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo targeted an oversupply of call centres in announcing the need to axe 12,000 jobs.
It is not known if Telstra has plans for the Goonellabah call centre, which employs 150 people.
A spokesman has refused to guarantee the future of the Goonellabah centre.
The Ballina announcement was made without warning.
Ms Anderson, who had been working at the Ballina office for two years as an outbound tele-sales representative, said that at 2.30pm yesterday staff were told to get off the phones by a Trading Post manager from Sydney.
"She just announced it as a Trading Post update that they were rolling the regionals into the Sydney call centre," Ms Anderson said.
"It was a complete shock. I can't think straight. We had no idea this was coming."
Karen Hannan, a consumer sales manager for the Trading Post in Sydney, confirmed the Ballina office would be closed, but said 'no one would lose their jobs'.
"We are not going to oper- ate this office," she said.
"People will be redeployed (to Victoria, Sydney or Brisbane)."
Another long-term Ballina Trading Post employee said they were simply told 'they can do it better in Sydney'.
The employee said staff were told the restructuring was unrelated to Mr Trujillo's warnings of job cuts last week.
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