Page MP Janelle Saffin
Page MP Janelle Saffin Cathy Adams

Telstra decision 'unconscionable'

PAGE MP Janelle Saffin highlighted the "cruelty of Telstra" in a speech to the House of Representatives on Wednesday night.

She described the telco's decision this week to close its Goonellabah call centre, putting at least 116 people out of work, as "unconscionable".

"I cannot comprehend, in all conscience, and neither can other people in my electorate, how the bosses can sit down and look at a map of Australia and say: 'We're going to close some call centres so that we can make yet more profit'," Ms Saffin told the Parliament.

"That is 116 local people - locals who have their families, their roots, their lives in the Lismore district.

"They are just dumped by Telstra and it is unconscionable."

Ms Saffin joined a phone hook-up on Wednesday to discuss the call centre closure with Lismore MP Thomas George, Mayor Jenny Dowell and Mary-Rose Abbott from the Community and Public Sector Union.

She also spoke with local employment co-ordinator Terry Watson

"We agreed it is just not acceptable for Telstra to axe 116 jobs from a community of our size," she said. "Thomas and I are meeting again on Friday to see how we can best support our local people.

"In the meantime we will each be doing whatever we can to support Telstra employees."

Ms Saffin also relayed details of her discussion on Tuesday night with Telstra CEO David Thodey, in which she attempted to persuade him to abandon the plan to close the centre.

"But given their track record, they will just go ahead," she said.

Adding to the feeling of anger was the fact Telstra, only two weeks ago, announced a $3.4billion final year profit, Ms Saffin said.

She also took aim at Telstra executives, who pocket generous bonuses, and Mr Thodey, who last year received a $2million pay rise.

"Good luck to them, if they look after the locals, the workers and the jobs.

"But it is galling to see that these executives need to be reminded that here, in the real world, Telstra employees are trying to keep their jobs, so they can pay mortgages and support their families," she said.

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