Dec 12, 2013
At a news conference tomorrow in Bonn, Germany, ver.di, the union representing workers at Deutsche Telekom in Germany, CWA and UNI Global Union, will spotlight Deutsche Telekom's policy of allowing its subsidiaries outside Germany to intimidate and harass workers.
The unions will call on DT to use the change in top leadership that is coming at the end of this year as an opportunity to change course and end the "culture of bullying" that DT has allowed to take hold in the United States and other countries where T-Mobile operates.
The news conference will expose DT as a "Black Book Telecom" and cite its violations of the right to freedom of association, human rights and labor law outside of Germany. It also will release the results of a survey conducted among 1,800 workers from seven countries outside of the company headquarters in Germany, carried out by affiliates of UNI Global Union. The countries surveyed were Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Montenegro, Romania and the United States. All workers were employed in companies with either direct or indirect Deutsche Telekom ownership.
CWA President Larry Cohen will be in Bonn as DT's Supervisory Board prepares to name a new chairman. He outlined the campaign of humiliation, fear and illegal actions that T-Mobile US workers face:
"In 2001, CWA supported Deutsche Telekom's entrance into the U.S. market on the recommendation of ver.di which cited DT's respect for workers' rights. In fact, DT acknowledges the value of its relationship with ver.di and respects workers' rights in Germany.
"But in the U.S., DT USA management has no tolerance for workers who want to form a union. DT allows its subsidiary T-Mobile US to attack workers' rights and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the workplace," Cohen said.
"ver.di has been a great partner in this effort to support the rights of T-Mobile workers, in the U.S. and in other countries. ver.di members have taken on the cause of Josh Coleman, a top performing worker who was illegally fired from T-Mobile US's Wichita, Kan., call center. Thousands of ver.di activists have protested this action and wear t-shirts that say 'We Are All Josh,'" Cohen said.
The U.S. government is prosecuting T-Mobile US for illegal firings and disciplinary action taken against union supporters. "This is the only beginning, as the number and intensity of U.S. labor law violations have grown," he said.
Lothar Schröder, a ver.di Federal Executive Board member, said, "The survey findings confirm our belief that Deutsche Telekom must do more to ensure fair conditions and respect for worker rights in its operations outside Germany. ver.di is committed to working together with UNI Global Union and the DT Union Alliance to press for the remedies set out in the report."
Among the key survey findings:
- Forty-six percent of T-Mobile workers have experienced bullying in the form of verbal aggression, denigration of professional abilities or demoralizing jokes.
- Workers in all survey countries (72% percent of the 1,800 respondents) said the best way for workers to improve their working conditions was through a union and a collective bargaining agreement.
- In nearly every country, a high proportion of surveyed workers said the employer exerts pressure to prevent employees from participating in the union or to undermine the effectiveness and reputation of the organization.
- Forty-nine percent of workers surveyed said they believe the company trains managers to discourage union activity, and 67 percent said that their employer says negative things about the union or its reputation.
"CWA will continue to work with ver.di and UNI Global Union until Deutsche Telekom accepts its responsibility for the way its subsidiaries in other countries treat workers," Cohen said.