Deutsche Telekom Announces New Corporate Responsibility Report

12. Juni 2012: On Wednesday May 30, Deutsche Telekom announced the release of its Corporate Responsibility Report.

Readers will be excused for having missed the announcement, since the release appears nowhere on the company website.

The report is a curious mix of old and new. The reader clicks on the link in the press release and, front and center on the website, CEO René Obermann offers a preface that was used for the report last year. The CR Report also links to a Human Resources report from March 2012 introduced by Thomas Sattelberger, Head of Global HR, who is no longer with the company.

However, there are some key findings and non-findings here. The company values dialogue with employee elected representatives:
we successfully continued to pursue intensive dialog with the bodies representing employees within the Group in Germany. The implementation of numerous measures and projects would not have been possible without the participation of elected employee representatives. This is where we are seeing the fruits of our commitment to cooperation based on trust.
It turns out, then, that Deutsche Telekom works well with the union! Yet, T-Mobile USA spends considerable sums to retain the legal services of know union avoidance attorneys. And T-Mobile USA management has been relentless in badgering, threatening, and warning workers not to join the union.

“Corporate responsibility is an integral part of our core business and our daily activities,” is one of the blurbs on the rotator in the middle of the page. Click on T-Mobile USA and you will not find anything about employee representation or management’s campaign against workers seeking to organize local unions. Nor will you find any material on the announced closure of seven call centers (announced March 22) or offshoring work to the Philippines and Latin America. Instead, the company pats itself on the back for its corporate volunteering – its “huddle Up” program.

This is not to belittle corporate volunteer work. There is shockingly little on U.S. employees, especially since the U.S. operation accounts for one quarter of DT’s sales.

The report states that T-Mobile follows the law and “does not prevent any of its employees from setting up or joining a union and does not discriminate against those who do.” That’s pretty unambiguous…. No mention of the Unfair Labor Practices charges and settlements in the last 18 months. No mention about managers harassing union activists in Frisco, Texas! No mention of the cross examination of Wichita, Kansas, workers for talking about the union on break time! No mention about managers removing union materials from a break room! All incidents resulted in “settlements” between the company and the National Labor Relations Board, three were settlements, which means the Regional Director of the NLRB found merit in the worker complaints.

The report also claims that “a large majority of staff at T-Mobile USA have chosen not to be represented by a union.” This has been a long-standing claim of the company. TU activists laugh at that notion that there has been no choice. “Only managers would say that,” an activist in Nashville recounted recently.

It seems clear that Deutsche Telekom wants to toot its horn about social dialogue in Germany while papering over clear problems in the subsidiaries. This was one of the findings of the report by the Trade Union Advisory Committee on the way Deutsche Telekom reported on Corporate Social Responsibility.

“We take responsibility” may be the sub-title of the report but it could more aptly be called “We close our eyes.”

Click here for the Corporate Responsibility Report.

Click here for a release on the CR Report by UNI Global Union.