Telstra has confirmed it will slash around 650 jobs from its directory business, Sensis.
The company says the restructure will see the creation of a digital customer management centre with around 50 staff, but is likely to result in an overall loss of about 648 jobs out of the 3,500 staff currently employed by Sensis.
The cuts will include 312 staff from Melbourne and 248 from Sydney, with the remaining 38 spread across Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Hobart.
Telstra says around 391 of those jobs are likely to be outsourced, with union representatives saying they have been hearing from Sensis staff that some or all of those outsourced positions may be moved offshore.
Telstra's Nicole McKechnie says it is possible that at least some of the outsourced roles could be performed offshore.
"Potentially they could be outsourced to suppliers in the Philippines and India, some of whom are already providing directory services to businesses around the world and can provide an expanded range of services, including 24/7 capabilities," she said.
Michael Tull from the CPSU says workers should be relocated within the company.
"Telstra is an enormous corporation.
They've just posted a record $1.6 billion half-year profit," he said.
The move comes as part of a restructure to move Sensis from its traditional print-based directory model towards digital advertising online.
"Until now we have been operating with an outdated print-based model â this is no longer sustainable for us," said Sensis managing director John Allan.
"As we have made clear in the past, we will continue to produce Yellow and White Pages books to meet the needs of customers and advertisers who rely on the printed directories, but our future is online and mobile where the vast majority of search and directory business takes place." Sensis says it is consulting with staff and unions about the proposed job cuts and restructuring.
There had been reports of likely job losses before Telstra officially confirmed them shortly after 11am (AEDT).
Earlier this morning, Prime Minister Julia Gillard responded to those reports on DMG Radio in Adelaide.
"That's dreadful news, really dreadful news, particularly for the staff members who are hearing that today," she said.
"It's always incredibly tough when someone loses a job.
That's why we do so much to try and make sure that there are job opportunities in our nation, because you need a job to build a life for you and your family."