Job losses set to exceed 116
THE number of job losses at Telstra's Goonellabah call centre may exceed 116 and will include married couples, a union official has revealed.
Community and Public Sector Union organiser Mary Rose Abbott, who met with call centre employees yesterday, said staff believed the number of jobs to be lost could be much more than 116 when those currently on various forms of leave were included.
There were at least two lots of married couples working at the centre whose households would lose both incomes.
There were also younger staff whose six-month probation at the corporation would be up just before they lost their jobs.
"They've given up other work in the last six months to have a career at Telstra," Ms Abbott said.
"They are just stunned. They are shocked. They are very scared," she said of the reaction to Tuesday's announcement that job cuts would take effect on October 23.
She said Telstra had offered staff redeployment at other call centres, including Hobart, which did not meet with much excitement among those who had established lives at Lismore.
In a phone hook-up yesterday between local political representatives and Ms Abbott, a commitment was made to mount a campaign to attempt to force Telstra to reverse its decision.
Ms Abbott is set to start tomorrow by approaching local businesses with a petition and setting up a stall at Lismore markets tomorrow evening to rally community support.
A second meeting to discuss the campaign strategy is scheduled for Friday.
Meanwhile, there are calls to boycott Telstra as anger grows over the job cuts.
Kyogle Shire Council, a long-term Telstra client, announced it would be reconsidering its dealings with the corporation "in light of the lack of commitment to our region displayed".
Lismore councillor David Yarnall urged residents to contact Telstra and register their anger personally.
"I will be insisting that council cancels its contract with Telstra and I urge other Telstra customers to do the same," Cr Yarnall said.
The Northern Rivers NSW Chamber of Commerce is calling for an urgent regional jobs and economic growth forum, claiming economic development had been uncoordinated and fragmented in the region.
Workplace and Employment Relations Minister Bill Shorten said he was frustrated by Telstra's decision and warned there were long-term risks to companies seeking short-term savings through off-shoring jobs.