Loud message sent direct to Deutsche Telekom shareholders

13. Mai 2011: Over 500 Deutsche Telekom workers from the ver.di union yesterday descended on the global annual meeting of shareholders of the company today in Cologne, protesting against the harassment of US workers in workplaces of its subsidiary T-Mobile USA.

Telling shareholders and management to give the same union rights to American workers at T-Mobile, workers protested outside the meeting, while representatives inside the meeting asked the hard questions of global management.
The workers are protesting against the T-Mobile management who harass workers who try to join the union and have implemented a company-wide strategy of refusing to recognize organising and collective bargaining rights.

A recent company memo to the US workers bans them from displaying union leaflets or even suggesting to co-workers that they should join the union.

Kornelia Dubbel, a worker representative from ver.di was the fourth speaker at the AGM, and to rousing applause, she asked why Deutsche Telecom would not give T-Mobile workers a fair opportunity to talk to the union. The company took some hours to answer but finally said that giving access to the union would be “….considered by the antitrust authorities as a breach of competition law."
Ver.di’s Ado Wilhelm said that he would be extremely surprised if this is in fact the case.

“German management must stand up and recognise proper labour standards for all their employees,” Mr Wilhelm said.
“We want to send a clear message from our members to our American colleagues – we protested today, and we will not walk away from our commitment to fight for your labour rights.”

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said today that German customers of Deutsche Telekom would be looking for a better attitude from this company.
“It is not good enough that they allow harassment and intimidation of American workers who just want the choice to belong to a union,” Ms Burrow said.

Philip Jennings, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, which brings together unions in the telecoms sector, said „Responsible employers don’t act this way. We expect better from one of the world’s leading telecom companies with solid industrial relations in its home country.“ Deutsche Telekom is being called upon called upon to sign a global agreement with UNI, to ensure workers’ rights are fully respected in all its global operations.

The President of the Communications Workers America, Larry Cohen, said “T-Mobile workers must be allowed to choose a union, without interference. We thank German workers for standing up for our rights.”