Communications Minister Kris Faafoi say his heart goes out to the families of workers who face uncertainty after Vodafone New Zealand announced more than 100 jobs could be axed.

READ MORE:
Covid-19: Vodafone NZ staff brace for redundancies
Covid-19: 2degrees to lay off 120 staff, slash costs
Covid-19: NZ telcos' big roaming revenue hit

A Vodafone spokeswoman said 5-7 per cent of its roughly 2000-strong workforce could be cut thanks to "significant financial impact" caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This translates to 100-140 possible job losses, not including contractors.

Advertisement

Faafoi, the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, said his "heart goes out to the workers and their families at Vodafone who are facing uncertainty around their future employment with the company.

"Like so many other sectors, the telecommunications sector has made clear it is facing challenges as a result of COVID-19."

In a statement, a Vodafone spokeswoman said in mid-April the company started reviewing all its costs to address the impacts of Covid-19 and to ensure long-term business sustainability.

READ MORE:
Covid-5G conspiracy theorist gets three year's jail for cell tower arson

"Covid-19 has had a significant financial impact on our business, including reduced roaming and retail revenues, the providing of additional data to customers on unlimited plans for no extra revenue, and the increased risk of bad debt."

This, along with changing customer habits such as higher phone and data use and a greater need for online customer support, meant Vodafone had to significantly reduce its costs and "adapt to the acceleration of digital adoption", she said.

"We have been doing everything we can to minimise the impact on our people, however unfortunately it is inevitable there will be some job losses to help offset the financial impacts of Covid-19 and accelerate our digital strategies to meet the new needs of our customers."

Over the next few months, they estimate the 5-7 per cent loss of staff, depending on how many can be redeployed.

Advertisement

"Wherever possible, we are looking to redeploy or reskill people. For example most of our retail team were redeployed in customer roles during alert levels 3 and 4."

The industry was "incredibly dynamic" and Vodafone was continually looking at priorities and skills to provide services most valued by the customers.

"In coming years, as we continue to adapt to the new digital future, our business will keep changing as we reprioritise to grow in new areas and stop investing in others."

Vodafone chief executive Jason Paris earlier told staff he and senior managers were taking a 20 per cent pay cut, and confirmed a salary and hiring freeze.

It follows a move by rival 2degrees, which in April said it was laying off 120, or 10 per cent of its 1200 staff.

Technology Users Association (TUANZ) chief executive Craig Young said the cut estimates were not surprising and that the industry was "pretty cut-throat".

Advertisement

"All the telcos will blame the loss of international inbound roaming, which is a high margin product for them."

The job losses were "disappointing but probably inevitable for any organisation of that size".

"If I was them I'd be looking at doing things like putting a lot more online ... do a lot more automation."

Young hoped the job losses would not happen in parts of the business that faced the public, as support staff who dealt with users were important.

"It wouldn't surprise me if some of their retail stores close down."

There was a "large amount of work to be done" in New Zealand in applying technological solutions in a post-Covid society, he said.

Advertisement