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Deutsche Telekom staff walk out

More than 10,000 employees at German carrier Deutsche Telekom staged a walk out on Friday, as strikes over staff outsourcing and wage cuts began.

The German incumbent has drawn fire over plans to outsource 50,000 staff to three new companies, with new contracts expected to include lower wages and longer working hours.

A majority of the strikes on Friday target technical infrastructure engineers, call centres and high street retail outlets.

A ballot cast Thursday won overwhelming support for industrial action, after trade union Ver.di rejected Deutsche Telekom’s terms last week. Until Friday, there had already been token stoppages, a so-called ‘warning strike’ in German practice.

Ver.di’s leadership claims that the terms of the staff transfer, which affects mostly call-centre staff in the carrier’s T-Service division, will amount to a 9 per cent pay cut with increased hours. The union demands that the company offers more money and a long term agreement in return for its consent to the transfer. Ado Wilhelm, the head of Ver.di’s Telecoms and IT section, claims that Deutsche Telekom has refused to discuss this in some five rounds of talks.

The threat of industrial action darkened the skies over Deutsche Telekom further on Thursday, as the carrier’s management claimed the transfer is urgently needed to reduce costs after a disastrous first quarter.

Deutsche Telekom saw profits plummet 58 per cent to Eur459m during the first quarter, as traditional fixed line customers continued to abandon the operator.


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