Telus slashing 6,000 jobs amid drop in 2nd quarter profits

Telecommunications giant Telus says it is trimming 6,000 jobs, citing its need to free up cash flow and remain competitive.

The cuts involve 4,000 positions at its main Telus business and 2,000 at Telus International and include offers of early retirement and voluntary departure packages, the Vancouver-based company said Friday.

Financial markets data firm Refinitiv says Telus had 108,500 workers at the end of last year.

The cuts were made with “a very heavy heart” and prompted by the “evolving regulatory, competitive and macroeconomic environment,” said Darren Entwistle, the company’s president and chief executive.

“Against the backdrop of rapid transformation in our industry and the ways in which our customers want to engage with us, today we are announcing a significant investment in an extensive efficiency and effectiveness initiative across Telus,” he said in a news release.

He added that Telus is also offering early retirement and voluntary departure packages.

Donna Hokiro, president of United Steelworkers Local 1944 in Edmonton, said in an interview that unionized workers have had enough.

“Why do these companies do it? Because they can. We don’t have strong enough government regulations against it,” she said.

“We have repeatedly lobbied and we will continue to do so, that companies like Telus and others should not be given lucrative government contracts when there are no strings attached.”

Telus offered buyouts to about 2,000 employees in May, targeting customer support roles for wireless, internet and cable customers.

A spokesperson said at the time that Telus expected several hundred employees to opt in and that it would cap the number of packages given.

Canadians can expect the quality of service they receive from Telus to drop as a result of the job losses, according to Hokiro, the union leader.

“With the cuts you see, with the clerical cuts … darn tootin’ you’re going to notice a difference.”

CEO touts ‘winning’ strategy

The restructuring will cost Telus $475 million in 2023 and lead to annual savings of more than $325 million, the company said.

Its plans to reduce its workforce were announced at the same time as the company revealed its second-quarter net income fell almost 61 per cent from the same period last year to $196 million.

The company’s net income amounted to 14 cents per share for the quarter ending June 30 compared with 34 cents per share in the same quarter a year earlier.

A man is shown in front of an advertisement for Telus featuring four birds.
The Telus building, in downtown Toronto, is pictured on Thursday after the company announced 6,000 job cuts. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Yet Entwistle positioned the company’s strategy of building out broadband networks, digitizing operations and streamlining costs as “winning.”

“Our resilience and ability to embrace change and continuously evolve the way we operate are cornerstones of our Telus culture and will continue to fuel our future success,” he said.

This cut comes as telecommunications businesses are striving to streamline their operations as they grapple with regulatory action amid soaring interest rates and stubbornly high inflation.

WATCH | Wireless price hikes: 

Major wireless carriers hike some prices

Rogers is raising its U.S. long-distance rates to $1 per minute for customers without a plan after Bell and Telus recently hiked their roaming fees. The increases come at a time when Ottawa is pushing for more affordable prices.

Other telecom giants BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications have also reevaluated the size of their workforce this year.

BCE Inc. announced in June that it would cut 1,300 positions, including a six per cent cut at Bell Media, citing unfavourable public policy and regulatory conditions.

Rogers, meanwhile, told employees in a memo that it would eliminate jobs made redundant by its merger with Shaw in a voluntary departure program.

The companies are scaling back as the federal government regulates streaming platforms with Bill C-11 (the Online Streaming Act), and forces Big Tech to pay news publishers for content linked on their platforms with Bill C-18 (the Online News Act).


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