Deutsche Telekom workers face daily threats, bullying and aggression
Employees at Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, are working in a pressure cooker atmosphere to meet almost impossibly difficult performance standards. That is a key finding of a new survey released today which lists a catalogue of abuse against Deutsche Telekom’s global staff located outside of Germany, including threatening behaviour, bullying, and humiliation.
The survey was launched this morning in Bonn, at a press conference held by ver.di and UNI Global Union, the global voice for telecommunications workers, and its affiliates.
The survey of 1800 workers from seven countries outside of the company headquarters in Germany was carried out by affiliates of UNI ICTS, the global trade union for the ICT sector. The countries surveyed included 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.
UNI ICTS is part of UNI Global Union, which represents telecommunications workers worldwide.
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said, “Sadly, this survey has confirmed our worst fears - that a culture of bullying, of fear, and ultimately of ill-health, has spread through Deutsche Telekom’s operations.
“It is not right that a company that - due to the hard fought struggles of ver.di and stronger labour laws - treats its workers with a level of respect in Germany can allow such brazen disrespect to take place in other countries. The trade unions representing Deutsche Telekom workers know the problems and they know how to help the company solve it. It’s time Deutsche Telekom came to the table and discussed how to work our way out of this mess. The results of the survey go beyond a coincidence. There is no doubt there are systemic issues to resolve.”
Ver.di Federal Executive Board member, Lothar Schröder 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 work together with UNI Global Union and the DT Union Alliance to press for the remedies set out in the report.”
Workers in every country provided reports of threats or bullying on the job. Many reported having experienced aggression directly, while others said that they had observed aggressive behaviour towards their colleagues. Strikingly, of those that did encounter aggression at work, 93 per cent of workers said that they had experienced bullying - peer pressure, verbal aggression, professional denigration, demoralisation, or humiliation – at work.
When asked to identify any illnesses or injuries connected to their job, the majority reported stress related conditions. In their own words, workers described “anxiety,” “stress,” “high-blood pressure related to stress,” “anxiety disorder,” “mental breakdowns,” “depression and anxiety,” and “severe stress and anxiety along with acid reflux disorder derived from stress.” 57 per cent of all surveyed workers reported being required to perform work that posed a risk their health.
Here are some of the other key findings:
- Workers in all survey countries (72% percent of the 1800 respondents) said they thought 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, expressed concern that 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 Deutsche Telekom 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.
- The responses from workers in the United States, where there was only one small recognized bargaining unit at the time of the survey and a voluntary but unrecognized organization of T-Mobile USA workers, indicated a very aggressive and widespread employer campaign to prevent workers from union engagement and to undermine their efforts to build their organization and reach collective bargaining.
Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said, “The CWA is disappointed to learn that workers in Deutsche Telekom operations outside of Germany suffer many of the same attacks on basic worker rights as T-Mobile workers in the U.S, but all of us will work together with ver.di and UNI Global Union until Deutsche Telekcom accepts its responsibility for the way its subsidiaries and holdings treat their workers."
UNI ICTS along with the Deutsche Telekom Union Alliance is calling on Deutsche Telekom to immediately enter into direct dialogue with to address the issues of working conditions and human and labour rights identified in the report. They have urged Deutsche Telekom to enter into a global framework agreement with UNI Global Union that guarantees that labour rights are effectively implemented across all Deutsche Telekom operations, subsidiaries and contractors.
Richard Elliott, UNI Global Union Director of Communications
Mobile: +41 79 794 9709, firstname.lastname@example.org