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A new rumour floating around the airwaves claimed that there will soon be more mass sackings at Optus. What's more, Optus has now confirmed these cuts.

Online news magazine Crikey.com.au says in its anonymous ‘tips and rumours’ the he information comes from a “reader's tip”, and that Optus is soon to announce a “major round of retrenchments, with a few hundred workers expected to be shown the door.”

Crikey asked Optus for comment, and said spokeswoman confirmed that “roles would be affected”. Some staff, no doubt including Crikey’s informant, have been told of the planned reorganisation, “which will see tasks switched from marketing to the customer division.”

Optus laid off 900 people last year, but few people thought that would be the end of the matter. “Crikey has heard whispers that the cuts may be somewhere in the vicinity of 375 people. It's understood an announcement will come in late March and the scale of the cuts will be finalised by 1 April."

After Crikey broke the news, Optus head of corporate and regulatory affairs David Epstein said in a statement: “Today Optus announced further business changes to continue the transformation program it commenced last year.

“These changes will see Optus elevate the prominence of branded activities, increase focus on building its fixed business in an NBN environment, ensure our marketing decisions are customer led, remove duplication, and streamline technology to improve efficiency of its internal IT systems and networks.”

Optus last year announced a major cost cutting program beyond staff redundancies. It is taking its retail operations in-house, and rationalising management levels. The savings from these changes may or may not be starting to flow through to the bottom line – it’s hard to tell.

Its financial results, released last week, showed an 8.3% drop net profit for the December quarter, compared to the same quarter in 2011, with revenues declining by 5.7%. The report did mention that “cost efficiencies lifted earnings to $576 million”, so presumably results would have been even worse without the cost cutting.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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