||Issue No. 289||11 November 2005|
The Great Repression
Interview: Public Defender
Legal: Craig's Story
Unions: Wrong Way, Go Back
Politics: Queue Jumping
History: Iron Heel
Economics: Waging War
International: Under Pressure
Poetry: Billy Negotiates An AWA
Review: A Pertinent Proposition
The Locker Room
We're Just Serfin'
To the Shredder
Sol Plays Dumb Card
In a move that has prompted the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia to call for federal government intervention, the planned sackings of hundreds of local scientists clears the way for more outsourcing of highly skilled and professional jobs overseas.
Telstra has confirmed its restructuring of its R&D will result in hundreds of job losses, but denies reports it is closing its main lab at Clayton in Melbourne in a matter of weeks.
But acting APESMA chief executive Geoff Fary is not convinced.
"Telstra can dress it up any way they like, but the fact of the matter is they intend to transfer most of its functions throughout other labs and the majority of people at Clayton are facing redundancy," he says, adding he suspects other Telstra R&D labs will also be effectively closed in the near future.
"We need to save jobs and also to ensure Australia remains competitive and innovative in our research and development efforts," he adds.
"60 to 70 percent of telecommunications R&D is now done in China and India where highly educated people are very cheap," says telecommunications analyst Paul Budde.
Budde says the effective closure of Telstra's Clayton R&D facility would be an acceleration of the demise of high-level telecommunications research in Australia.
"Around the world in the 1980s Telstra's R&D teams were considered world leaders," says Budde, adding that the Clayton team in particular were renowned for their research into solar powered telecommunications, something he says had commercial possibilities in countries such as Saudi Arabia and areas with unreliable electricity supplies.
However, Budde says Telstra began curtailing its elite R&D in favour of lower level research in the mid 1990s.
"Recently the research at Clayton has been all about the needs of corporate customers, such as the network needs of banks and mining companies," he says, adding Telstra will ultimately loose its race to compete with other telcos around the world if it continues to merely compete on price rather than building innovative products and services.
Under the leadership of American CEO Sol Trujillo, Telstra becomes the latest large Australian employer to consider the outsourcing of professional and highly technical jobs overseas.
Last month Qantas threatened to outsource over 3000 highly skilled maintenance and engineering jobs to other countries in an effort to meet cost-cutting targets.
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