Telstra chief executive Andy Penn who has announced a plan to cut 8000 jobs from its workforce. Pictured at Telstra HQ in Sydney. Picture: John Feder
Telstra chief executive Andy Penn who has announced a plan to cut 8000 jobs from its workforce. Pictured at Telstra HQ in Sydney. Picture: John Feder

Big question Telstra boss can’t answer

TELSTRA boss Andy Penn has been doing the media rounds in the past 24 hours but there's one question he can't quite answer.

The telco will axe one in four of its executive and middle management jobs and consolidate its back-office operations as it cuts 8000 jobs - about 25 per cent of its workforce - over the next three years to save $1 billion.

MORE: Everything you need to know about Telstra cuts

Telstra chief executive Andy Penn insists the shake up will mean better service for customers.

Speaking on ABC's 7:30 program last night, Mr Penn said the restructure will change "the nature of our products and services" and he hopes it will eliminate much of the service disruptions that have been aggravating customers lately.

"Hopefully if we execute this well, customers will have much less reason to call Telstra. Because many of the questions that come in today are because customers have got issues and frustrations," he said.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn speaks to the media during a press conference at the Telstra Customer Insights Centre in Sydney, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Picture: Peter Rae
Telstra CEO Andy Penn speaks to the media during a press conference at the Telstra Customer Insights Centre in Sydney, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Picture: Peter Rae

When ABC host Leigh Sales ran down the long list of network problems the telco has had in recent times from a string of mobile outages including three different outages in May alone, home broadband outages and disruptions to emergency service communications, she put the obvious question to the Telstra boss.

"How can shedding 8000 jobs, not make your service worse?"

Mr Penn deflected the question and talked about the complexity of a telco network and the inevitability of network interruptions when dealing with such sprawling physical technology assets and software.

After the host tried once more to ask the question, the Telstra boss steered clear of the jobs losses and moved the conversation back towards his message of increased simplicity for customers.

"We have a very large organisation, a very large work force, we have 35,000 people in the company. And fundamentally what we're announcing is that we believe that customers are frustrated with telecommunications services not because, from time to time, you do get impact in the network, but because they're complex, hard to understand and they have charges that catch people by surprise," he said.

Despite the significant job losses, Mr Penn insists the shake up will mean better service for customers.

He said the telecommunications sector had never been under more pressure, with the development of the National Broadband Network, significant increased competition and huge pressure to invest in new technologies.

"Ultimately if we're going to be competitive, if we're going to deliver better customer experience, if we're going to be able to compete in this industry, if we're going to be able to respond to very significant impact on margins and deliver returns for our shareholders, these are the changes we need to make," Mr Penn said.

"The consequences are we will be a smaller, leaner Telstra in the future."

A woman looks at her phone as she walks past a Telstra store on Melbourne's central business district yesterday. Picture: William West
A woman looks at her phone as she walks past a Telstra store on Melbourne's central business district yesterday. Picture: William West

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