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Resolution 18: Support for global campaign for rights at Deutsche Telekom

30 November, 2012

The 29th World Congress of Public Services International (PSI), meeting in Durban, South Africa, on 27-30 November 2012

NOTES the following:

As part of a vital effort to rebuild union power and density worldwide, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Council of Global Unions, of which PSI is a member, have agreed to rally their collective resources in support of a targeted global organising campaign model. This new initiative is focusing the combined support, resources and commitment of the world’s labour movement on a campaign to win rights a specific multinational, which will then serve as a pilot and the first in a series of concerted global campaigns.

In January 2011, representatives of Global Union Federations, the ITUC and national trade union centres from around the world came together and selected Deutsche Telekom as the focus for a new global organising model. While not the first international campaign, this is the first time the global labour movement in its entirety has come together to work in concert and to demand that a global corporation uphold standards of respect for workers and decent work principles wherever it operates.

In their home countries, many European multinational corporations have a long tradition of collective bargaining and social dialogue with their national unions, based on respect for fundamental worker rights. While not without conflict, these bargaining partnerships have fostered productive and prosperous companies, economically stable workforces, and stronger national democracies.

Yet, as was recently documented by Human Rights Watch, many of these multinationals do not bring best practices in labour relations from their home countries when they expand into the United States of America and other countries around the world. Instead, they adopt the worst practices of their host countries: disrespect for workers, union-busting tactics, fear and intimidation for workers who speak up, and firings and reprisals when they seek to join a union. Instead of taking a high road on worker rights and serving as positive examples, these multinational corporations adapt to the host country’s low road model for worker rights.

This is exactly what German multinational corporation Deutsche Telekom did when it expanded operations into the United States of America. American workers face anti-union behaviour that would be unprecedented in Germany, as part of an aggressive and comprehensive “union avoidance” strategy in pursuit of Deutsche Telekom efforts to achieve a “union-free environment”. Workers deserve better from a company with a proven record of respectful labour relations in Germany. 

For that reason, Communication Workers of America and its German counterpart ver.di joined together to create a transnational union, TU, that jointly represents the interests of German and U.S. workers. This organising locus now helps to coordinate a labour collaboration that is extending globally. Deutsche Telekom employs an estimated 250,000 workers in 35 countries.

In the past year thousands of ver.di members have shown support for T Mobile USA workers, rallying at the annual corporate meeting, sending delegations to the US to meet with workers at key organising locations, and building support in Germany using the theme, “We expect better”. Hundreds of US employees at T Mobile have joined the TU and leaders have met with ver.di colleagues both face to face and in online forums.

The model campaign for workers’ rights and voice at Deutsche Telekom is seeking to utilize unprecedented levels of international coordination and communication to link together the daily struggles of workers to build their unions and elevate their collective demands for respect of fundamental rights and a path to decent work in every possible arena. In the future, additional research will support the application of this global model in other sectors.


  • that PSI joins the global labour movement in endorsing this global campaign to help Deutsche Telekom workers win their basic labour rights, gain a voice on the job, and bargain for a better life for themselves and their families.
  • that PSI will post updates on the campaign on its website and provide tools to help affiliates support the campaign through public procurement and workers’ capital strategies, as well as through direct engagement and consumer campaigns, where possible.
  • that PSI and its affiliates will demonstrate public sector solidarity with this private sector campaign as a means of promoting labour unity in a time of unprecedented threats.
  • that PSI will call upon the ITUC to research potential public sector targets for future concerted campaigns, including the identification of multinational corporations involved in the privatization of public services.

 See all Congress resolutions including the Program of Action and the Constitution.


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