Public meeting calls for call centre jobs to be saved

A resolution calling on TelstraClear to withdraw its plan to locate its call centres off shore was passed unanimously at a public meeting in Kāpiti last night.

The call centres in Kāpiti and Christchurch are set to lose 148 workers with the Telstra plan to relocate their jobs to Manilla.

The general feeling of the meeting was that of outrage against Telstra, firstly for putting these jobs at risk but also for not fronting to the meeting. Many of the affected workers were also unable to attend the meeting due to a ‘media clause’ in their contract.

Union spokesperson George Collins described it as, “indirectly, it’s a threat for workers not to talk to the media.”

He said he was proud of the workers for showing up but disgusted that the company didn’t.

“The workers here are trained and skilled. There is no way the quality of service will be maintained with the jobs going to the Philippines.”

Mayor Jenny Rowan said she had known of this move for six months and had talked to TelstraClear many times trying to convince them to stay. “This will impact on TelstraClear’s reputation. A call centre hundreds of miles away simply cannot provide the service we need.”

John Grundy recounted for the meeting how Telstra first came to Kāpiti, via Kiwi Cable and Clear. “Telstra was really born in Kāpiti. We all fought for it in those early days. Kāpiti gave Telstra a strong base in New Zealand and now they are not supporting Kāpiti.”

Local resident Doug Hipkins told the meeting he was very disappointed Telstra had not turned up to hear the community’s views.

“The call centre here has done a great job – I have always had a good response. It is a disgrace management haven’t turned up to give me, the customer, the opportunity to respond to their plans.”

Jan Nimmo reflected the general view that this was dreadful public relations by Telstra.

Local councillor Lyndy McIntyre said reasoning hadn’t worked and people should contact Telstra directly to let them know how they feel, including changing companies.

The call centre workers said they were very grateful for the strong community support.

Telstra can be contacted on 0508 888 800 or go online to email the CEO Alan Freeth at – online help, then contact us.