Sunday, 10 July 2011

Deutsche Telekom Social Responsibility Report conceals US union-busting

Deutsche Telekom’s annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report, released earlier this month, hides the truth about the company’s aggressive anti-union campaign in its T-Mobile USA operations, undermining its claim to leadership in the field of social responsibility. The report mentions Deutsche Telekom’s commitment to ILO, OECD and UN Global Compact standards, but excludes any reference to the problems faced by its huge US workforce to which the company is trying to deny union membership. “Germany has been a powerful voice in favour of ILO standards at the G20 and elsewhere, but here we have a company in which the German government is the dominant shareholder, actively and deliberately violating these very rights in its overseas operations,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

T-Mobile USA management, supported by the German parent company, have engaged specialised anti-union lawyers to block employee’s attempts to get representation from the Communication Workers of America. The website of one of the firms openly advertises “union avoidance” as one of its specialties, listing T-Mobile as a “client it represents on a regular basis”. The company has launched a series of legal tactics to delay and frustrate election proceedings at the US National Labour Relations Board, rather than simply accept the worker’s wish for union representation as is allowed under US law. Groups of workers, most recently in Connecticut and New York, have also been made to attend management-organised “captive audience” meetings in recent days to convince them to change their decision to join the union. Efforts by the CWA to engage with T-Mobile management to ease the anti-union campaign have to date not succeeded, nor have discussions with the German parent company.

“I was with the T-Mobile USA workers on Long Island when they signed their union cards,” said UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings. “If these workers were in Germany, they would have become members of the union automatically, but T-Mobile USA management has launched a brutal intimidation campaign to keep the union out of the workplace and to scare the workers out of fighting for their rights.” Union representation in the US is established only when a majority of workers in a specific workplace indicate that they want it. Companies can then voluntarily recognise the union, or insist on a secret ballot supervised by the National Labour Relations Board. The NLRB has recently announced plans to streamline procedures, to avoid precisely the kind of tactics being used by T-Mobile.

Friday, 1 July 2011

CONCORD welcomes EU budget increase for development

Proposals for the 2014 to 2020 EU budget released on 29 June by the European Commission, revealed a planned increase in external spending from €56 billion to €70 billion. CONCORD, the European NGO confederation for relief and development, welcomes the renewed commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. "The European Commission has shown courage in difficult times. It’s putting its money where its mouth is on giving priority to development," said Olivier Consolo, Director of CONCORD.

CONCORD welcomes in the EU budget:
* the proposal to include a clear commitment to the 0.7% GNI development aid targets along with a clear focus on poverty eradication based on democracy, human rights, equality and the respect for the UN Charter and international law.
* a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) to generate own EU resources.
* climate action as a core priority.

CONCORD calls:
* on Member States to support the proposal on development funding levels and to take responsibility at national level to meet their MDG commitments.
* for the new budget not to be used as an opportunity to cut aid to emerging and middle income countries where three quarters of the world’s poor live. Poverty eradication and fighting inequalities must be central to development cooperation.
* funds raised with a FTT must go to tackle poverty and climate change.
* for climate financing to be additional to official development assistance (ODA) commitments already made.

Civil Society Organisations are widely recognized as having a central role in development cooperation which must be translated by including them in the EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) negotiations. A CONCORD paper on the main MFF Priciples can be found >>> here.