Rallying behind Telstra workers

CALL OUT: Federal MP Janelle Saffin, State MP Thomas George and Mayor Jenny Dowell launch a community petition asking Telstra not to dismiss its Goonellabah workforce.
CALL OUT: Federal MP Janelle Saffin, State MP Thomas George and Mayor Jenny Dowell launch a community petition asking Telstra not to dismiss its Goonellabah workforce.

LISMORE's community is reacting quickly to the proposed closure of the Telstra call centre in Goonellabah.

Community groups, local government, politicians and businesses are furious at the effect 116 jobs losses could have on the local economy.

If the closure is confirmed, the workers will face the option of taking up a redundancy package and becoming unemployed, or transferring to Melbourne, Perth, Bathurst, Hobart or Adelaide.

Either option means loss of income for the local economy.

Local politicians Janelle Saffin, Thomas George and Jenny Dowell have written a joint letter to Telstra CEO David Thodey demanding a full explanation about the reasons for "such a cruel decision, despite earlier public assurances that this particular call centre was safe".

Janelle Saffin said Telstra awarded David Thodey a $2 million pay rise, along with millions in bonuses for other executives less than a year ago.

"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.

Ms Saffin has launched a petition to save the jobs, which is available to sign at her office at 63 Molesworth Street.

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell expressed her dissatisfaction at a private meeting with Telstra's head of customer service, Peter Jamieson.

Cr Dowell said she told Mr Jamieson the jobs cuts were "unnecessary, and they have an impact too great on a regional city such as Lismore".

The Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC) has launched a survey to gauge "how much income Telstra earns from business and individuals in our region and whether these customers are concerned by Telstra's decision to close the Goonellabah call centre".

CEO Tony Davies also wants to find out if local Telstra customers are considering a shift to another provider and whether there are barriers that prevent people from changing providers.

"We are also interested in seeing whether there is a critical mass of people and organisations that are willing to back a local provider," he said.

The survey is confidential and can be accessed at


NSW Nurses Association spokesperson Gil Wilson said the nurses are furious about Telstra's blatant disregard for its workers.

"How could they rip the heart out of our community and destroy opportunities for our children's future by sending these jobs offshore?" Mr Wilson asked.

The nurses are organising a community forum tonight (Thursday, August 30) at 6pm at the Lismore Workers Club, to discuss a local campaign with the community on how to support Telstra workers.

"Kyogle Council has also passed a motion this week to consider the viability of changing its Telco provider.

Lismore Councillor David Yarnall has suggested Lismore Council should also cancel its account with Telstra and encouraged other businesses to do the same.

Telstra's head of customer service Peter Jamieson told The Echo he was happy to hear the local community had gotten behind the Telstra workers.

"I really do appreciate the fact that the community is rallying around to support those folks," he said.

"Our overriding concern is every single one of those people and making sure they have the support they need. It is all I am concerned about," Mr Jamieson said.

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