Call-centre workers expose Deutsche Telekom double standard to global panel of inquiry into workers rights
Charleston, South Carolina – Call-centre workers from T-Mobile USA, owned by Deutsche Telekom, gave evidence exposing the stark difference in workplace conditions between the US and Germany to an international hearing today in Charleston. The hearing came after a week-long visit to South Carolina workplaces from Berlin based call centre workers from the ver.di union in Germany. ver.di is Germany’s largest union, representing 2 million workers.
The multi national communications company negotiates with the German union for workplace conditions with union representation a key part of the company culture, but the management does not allow the same practices in the USA.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation said Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Oberman and the German Government must listen to the voice of workers, and they have a responsibility to fix the abuses in their company. “There are companies respected in Europe, behaving badly right here in the US. German people need to know what is happening to workers in the USA. They would be appalled to think the company they are so proud of, that bears the German name, could be treating workers to fear and intimidation.”
“We’re saying to T-Mobile, we expect better of you. Workers rights don’t stop at the German border, they’re for all people,” said Sharan Burrow.
“Workers doing the same job for the same company deserve to be treated the same. Why do one set of workers in the US face threats and intimidation for wanting to be represented by a union, while others in Germany get a seat at the management table,” said Larry Cohen, President, Communications Workers of America.
Brutal local management methods in the US have included having workers being forced to wear a dunce cap to humiliate them when performance measures slipped. Workers spoke about the culture of fear and pressure every day to keep responses to customer calls under 360 seconds, despite it being a call-centre to speak to customers. Felicia Smalls a call-centre worker in Charleston told the panel “I want to keep my job, and make it better.” Management of the multinational prevents workers from acting together to improve working conditions and keep jobs in the US.
Tomas Lenki, a ver.di union member from Deutsche Telekom in Berlin, said, “We have gathered numerous stories of attacks on workers’ rights and passed them on to our board of Human Resources. We’ve been told they are isolated cases and the behavior has stopped. What we have seen in first hand conversations in Charleston this week is in stark contrast to what Deutsche Telekom has told us. We feel betrayed and lied to from board of Deutsche Telekom. They may tell you we are not unionised but we tell you 2 million ver.di members have your back.”
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said “T-Mobile workers have spoken in Charleston. They are not prepared to be treated as second class citizens in the Deutsche Telekom global network. Deutsche Telekom must take responsibility and change its behavior. UNI and the global trade union movement demand Deutsche Telekom act now.”
The global panel of political, religious and labour leaders included James Clyburn, Member of US Congress; Larry Cohen, President, Communications Workers of America; Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC, and Reverend John Paul Brown. The global campaign ‘We expect better’ in 2013 will include more worker exchanges between Germany and the US and political pressure on Deutsche Telekom’s largest shareholder the Germany Government in an important election year.
Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court decision today affirmed the constitutional right of Congress to establish a personal mandate for insurance, a key element of the Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act was a significant undertaking. The Obama administration worked to bring together all the parties in our current system: consumers, insurers, providers, health care facilities, and employers. Congress held lengthy debates and difficult votes. The Affordable Care Act is an important first step toward true health care reform.
With cheaper U.S. Labor
Did we make it to the bottom? Well, we must be close. Close enough that U.S. industrial giant Caterpillar has locked out workers at the Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ontario and threatened a permanent closing and moving of the plant to Muncie, IN where workers earn less.
Would we like to have those jobs? Hell, yes! But I get a belly ache when I realize that they (the capitalists) are playing us against our brothers and sisters in Canada. We’re being used in the same way they played the cheaper labor game to move jobs out of the U.S.
The best way to cow a population is starvation. Take away the work for a few years and let desperation set in. Then, when we’re not so high and mighty, they trust that we’d turn our backs on our fellow workers and be grateful. They’re treating us like dogs fighting for scraps under the table.
This is an insult to Canadian and U.S. labor, as well as world labor. It’s an old game that we should fight against. I recommend lettering and emailing CATERPILLAR. I also recommend that any of you that are union members propose to your locals that they issue statements of support for the Caterpillar workers in London, Ontario.
This won’t stop until it doesn’t work for them anymore. Help make sure they know that world labor is putting an end to it.
Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
On FAA Shut Down
July 25, 2011
Yet again, the House Republicans are playing politics instead of building a strong, secure America. In another blatant example of political theater, the House Republicans refused to pass a routine measure to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), forcing lay-offs of thousands of FAA and construction workers, with tens of thousands more jobs at risk.
Republican members of Congress need to stop playing ideological games and get down to the serious business of creating jobs, instead of laying off FAA aviation experts and tens of thousands of construction workers, who are already experiencing close to 20 percent unemployment rates nationally. Adding insult to injury, just as the government reaches its debt limit, this disruption of the FAA means that aviation taxes – totaling up to $200 million a week – that normally fund our aviation infrastructure may instead end up in the airlines’ pockets.
The House Republicans are undertaking this extraordinary disruption of the operations of the FAA for one reason – to play to a political ideology focused on scapegoating workers. Instead of laying off the people responsible for safe, secure aviation, our elected leaders ought to be building a high wage, high skill economy where our middle class is strong and America thrives.
Seattle – Today the NFL owners announced that they would not be conducting a lock-out of the NFL Players Association.
They have opted instead to outsource and offshore the league, and have released the new team locations and any name changes that are in the works.
Among some of the changes that fans can expect have The New England Patriots moved to the Caribbean and re-named The Haiti Pirates. Also announced: the Yokohama 49ers, the Amsterdam Falcons and the Zhengzhou Seahawks among others.
A spokesman for the owners said “We expect the changes to be well received by the fans, and will improve the overall quality of play in a global market.”
One exception has emerged in the Detroit Lions. No other city has made a bid to host the team.
We’ve seen people beginning to wake up. WI shows it, as well as mass demonstrations in other states. IAFF will not participate in national politics, and Trumka announced that AFL-CIO will not support the Democratic Party at the national level. I hope that CWA will make a similar announcement. While both organizations have said that the funds will be re-directed to the state and local level, I would like to suggest that some of the funds be used for the purpose of establishing a manufacturing base of factories and retail outlets owned, operated and administered by our unions. We don’t need no boss! We can do it all ourselves.
The legendary journalist, Tom Brokaw, now a Special Correspondent for NBC News, apparently abandoned his commitment to true journalism to tote the corporate line when it comes to immigration and the H-1B Visa. In Tom Brokaw’s report, Brokaw uses an anecdotal example of SnapDeal, a company started in India by an Indian entrepreneur who happened to have spent some time in the U.S. on an H-1B Visa. Brokaw’s premise is that the U.S. somehow "lost out" by not keeping this entrepreneur here so that he could start his company in the U.S. The problem with this premise is that it is an insult to all American tech workers and entrepreneurs. It basically says that we can’t start our own businesses here in this country and we have to have someone from a different country to do it for us, which is just nonsense.
Of course, no corporate shilling news report is complete without a quote from the shilling clown himself, Vivek Wadhwa. This "news story" does not disappoint. Anyone familiar with Wadhwa knows that he cannot intelligently participate in a debate with anyone who disagrees with him. He typically breaks down into yelling over his opponent and accusing them and anyone else who disagrees with him as being xenophobes.
Even if this Indian company was started here in the U.S., what are the chances that it would hire any of the unemployed American tech workers? It would likely hire other foreign tech workers on Visas, or outsource much of the work to India with little benefit to the U.S. or the American worker.
The real reason the Koch Brothers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Indian outsourcing/offshoring companies, and many other corporate entities want to eliminate caps on these Visas cannot be stated any better than the last paragraph of an article in the Deccan Chronicle. The article is titled "Rising US visa rejections take toll on Indian IT cos" and it explains that an increase in the L-1/H-1B Visa rejection rate from four percent to eight percent is putting a crimp on profits for Indian outsourcing/offshoring companies. The last paragraph reads:
"Stricter visa norms could also force Indian IT firms to start local hiring at a faster pace than what they are doing at present. This could also end up pushing costs because the average age of IT workers in the US tends to be higher — which also means higher salaries."
In other words, it’s all about cheap wages and age discrimination. Heaven forbid we hire any IT worker over 40 and pay them enough so that they can keep making their mortgage payments and feed their family.
For each job opening in America, there are 5 applicants. In this video, Mike Papantonio and investigative journalist Andy Kroll discuss how education makes it much harder to find a job, especially if you are over 45. They also discuss how the U.S. Chamber of Congress, the front organization for Corporate America which bought congressional offices for Republicans in the midterm election, is succeeding in their goal of eliminating the middle class and promoting a low-wage-only workforce.
This letter was shared with WashTech by the writer, and is posted here by their permission. The person did sign the letter when it was sent to the senators, but has asked to remain anonymous here. If you share these opinions, please express them to your own senators and congressman. – WashTech
I am incensed that large American Corporations are shipping our jobs overseas — eg India. When we have a 10% unemployment rate these companies should not be getting tax breaks. They should be getting tax penalties. H1B1 visas should be frozen or reduced.
If you want a non humorous look at the situation watch the show ‘Outsourced’ on NBC. Go to NBC.com, search on “Outsourced” and watch the pilot. I love the Indian people, but they are being used and the American people are being abused.
If outsourcing is an honorable thing to do, why is it that these outsourced call centers pretend to be in the United States, using US names, and lying as to where they are actually operating from? If it were an honest, honorable thing to do would this be going on, the lying and deception? Why are the Indian people being ‘forced’ to adopt our names and hide their culture?
Microsoft advertised during this show as they are one of the worst offenders — not a surprise.
CWA’s Speed Matters campaign addresses what is called “Net Neutrality.” CWA launched the Speed Matters campaign to make high-speed Internet available and affordable to all Americans as it is important to our nation’s education, health care, and economic development.
However, three members of our congressional delegation have decided that the money they get from the telecom industry… Verizon, ATT and Comcast (Xfinity)… means more to them than our ability to compete in the digitized world, and each has signed an industry letter, being circulated by Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), addressed to the chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski. Phone and cable lobbyists are making the rounds on Capitol Hill, urging elected representatives to sign on to this letter to undermine the FCC’s authority to protect an open internet and foster universal access.
Doc Hastings, Rick Larsen and David Reichert do not care if Verizon, ATT and Comcast (Xfinity) practice internet throttling. Throttling lets carriers slow or block internet traffic.