Community angry at job cuts

UNION organiser Mary Rose Abbott hit the hustings in Lismore yesterday to begin the fight back against Telstra's move to axe workers from its Goonellabah call-centre.

Just two hours into gathering signatures on a petition at the markets where the Community and Public Sector Union set up a stall, Ms Abbott had already gathered a few hundred names from residents furious at Telstra's actions.

"I've had five people who said they would be going to the (Telstra) shop and cancelling their contract," she said.

"Enough's enough ... people are understanding the impact.

"Every 10th person goes, 'my neighbour works there, or my dad works there'."

Representatives from all three political parties and Ms Abbott will meet today to discuss their campaign strategy to try and get Telstra to reverse its decision.

Meanwhile, councils across the Northern Rivers could soon consider cancelling their Telstra services too.

At yesterday's Ballina Shire Council meeting, Mayor Phillip Silver - in his last council meeting before retirement - put forward a mayoral minute on the issue.

He called for the council to write to the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils so member councils could be asked to review their current and future telecommunications services provided by Telstra.

That would determine whether there would be regional benefits, such as increased regional employment, in moving the councils' combined purchasing power to another provider.

"It behoves us as a region to use our critical mass to see what we can do," Cr Silver said.

The mayoral minute was passed unanimously by the council.

Professor Ian Eddie from Southern Cross University's Business School said he was not surprised by Telstra's decision as corporations were increasingly under pressure to cut costs.

But he warned that for the sake of short-term savings, corporations could do long-term damage.



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