Trouble at Mill for DT

More than 10,000 employees left their jobs at Deutsche Telekom this morning to protest part of the carrier’s planned $6.3 billion cost-reduction program (TelecomWeb news break, April 27).

The strike came less than a day after the carrier, saying that it had lost 588,000 fixed-line customers in just 90 days, reported a 58-percent plunge in profits from a year earlier, and two days after it disclosed a buyer for its French broadband operation.

The walkout is the first major labor action against Deutsche Telekom since the carrier was privatized more than a decade ago, back in 1996.

ver.di, the largest union in Germany, called this morning’s strike after 96.5 percent of about 22,000 Deutsche Telekom workers who cast ballots voted yesterday to authorize the strike. So far, the strike only affects call-center, cable-installation and technical-services workers, and it’s centered in the western states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Lower Saxony. It isn’t clear how long the strike might last or how far it would spread.

The proximate cause of the strike is a protest over plans to move 50,000 workers to the company’s newly created T-Service customer-service division, at the same time increasing their work hours from 34 to 38 per week and cutting pay. Longer term, Deutsche Telekom wants to shed 32,000 employees. The personnel moves are supposed to help reduce annual costs by $1.2 billion.

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