While Vodafone NZ delays its official update on its restructure, advocates for affected staff are filling the void.
Christchurch-based community advocate Luke Chandler (whom the Herald now understands is also a Spark employee, though not acting in any way for the telco) says he has been approached by two Vodafone NZ staff, both who gave him copies of a contract being offered by Tech Mahindra - the Indian outsourcing giant that seems set to take on some Vodafone NZ staff in NZ, and to take over other roles that will be transferred to its operation in India.
Chandler says Vodafone NZ sales staff were given Tech Mahindra contracts on Monday, and given a week to sign them (the same timeframe as some staff during Spark's recent "agile" restructure). He forwarded the Herald a copy of one of the contracts, which included a provision that the offer would expire on May 6.
The staff are being asked to sign the contracts despite the paperwork not making it clear what their sales commission structure would be once they move from Vodafone NZ to Tech Mahindra.
Chandler also claims that the affected sales staff are effectively being made redundant as they leave Vodafone NZ, but that they will not be given redundancy payouts.
Chandler says that nearly all tech support roles will be shifted overseas, and that around 14 that will be kept in NZ will be managed by Tech Mahindra.
At least one person has travelled to India on assignment to train Indian staffers at Tech Mahindra who will take over his and his New Zealand colleagues' jobs, Chandler says - corroborating a report by an ex-Vodafone senior staffer.
He says that Vodafone staff have told him that a sales team of around 85 is being reduced to around 13 to 15 people.
Vodafone NZ's new-broom CEO, Jason Paris, challenged Chandler when he posted his numbers to social media (Chandler is the real identity of the Twitter user "Luc" or @JetVapour, who has been quoted in other media).
"Those numbers are wrong Luc but I'm not going to debate the details with you. The proof will be in the improved customer service - which everyone here is working hard on. All the best," Paris posted.
Underlining early comments to the Herald, Paris also tweeted, "We'll have more NZ-based call centre staff in NZ than any other telco, bar one - but it's true that we are shaking up the way that we do things across the board, including a $20m investment in service - as we are not where we want to be today."
Unite organiser Shirley Wang, who represents a number of Vodafone NZ call centre workers, told the Herald that she did not want to discuss the Tech Mahindra contracts while the union is still taking legal advice, but that she anticipates a statement shortly.
She said the situation had been made difficult by Vodafone NZ's refusal to give her a copy of the final contract.
"The restructure is a chaotic mess," Wang told the Herald.
Vodafone NZ spokesman Richard Llewellyn acknowledged Tech Mahindra would have a role in the restructure.
"Tech Mahindra will be investing in a centre of excellence in Christchurch and will take on some of our New Zealand team members on the same pay and comparable benefits as Vodafone, initially in the same building, to form the foundation of their business," he said.
All 10 divisions of Vodafone NZ will be affected by the restructure.
However, the company is not yet ready to detail the final shape of its reorgnisation.
Originally, Paris - who is seeking to get Vodafone NZ in shape for an IPO anticipated for early 2020 - said he was aiming to give all staff certainty by the end of March. He later indicated there would be a full public briefing by the end of April.
Last night, Llewellyn said an update on Vodafone NZ's new operation would now be "a few weeks away".
In the meantime, his company would not respond to speculation.
Unite's Wang says customer service will suffer as jobs are shifted overseas or go to Tech Mahindra's operation in New Zealand.
Paris earlier told the Herald that there Vodafone NZ's service needed to be improved. The aim of the restructure is to sharpen the company's performance across the board, and free up funds for investments in new areas, through reorganisation, including more automation and offshoring or inshoring in some areas.
Staff have speculated that up to 400 positions could go from the current Vodafone NZ complement of around 2700.
A Vodafone NZ spokeswoman said a voluntary redundancy offer extended to around 2000 staff had "single-digit" percentage uptake and that some degree of compulsory redundancy would follow.
Paris has stressed that the restructure is a work in progress and that numbers won't be finalised until the process is complete. In some areas, resources would be added.
Tech Mahindra did not immediately respond to a request for comment.