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November 3, 2005 5:37 pm

D Telekom workers seek job loss help

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Employee representatives at Deutsche Telekom have called on the German government to cushion the 32,000 job cuts announced by Europe’s largest telecoms company in its home market. The Verdi, trade union, warned it would “escalate” opposition to the plan if no satisfactory package could be agreed.

Franz Treml, deputy chairman of both Verdi and Telekom’s supervisory board, told the FT the union wanted civil servants still employed by the company to “play an equal part” in the €3.3bn ($3.9bn) voluntary redundancy programme Kai-Uwe Ricke, chief executive, plans to implement over the next three years.

When Germany privatised the then monopoly 10 years ago, DT took over large numbers of designated civil servants working alongside salaried employees on condition the state paid the bulk of their pensions. Civil servants still make up one third of the 170,000 people DT employs in Germany. “We’re going to keep a close eye on whether civil servants are offered early retirement packages in proportion to their share of the workforce,” Mr Treml said. “For this to happen, the government – when we finally get one – has to agree to extend funding civil servants’ pensions to include early retirement.”

Following election stalemate on September 18, Germany’s two main parties, incumbent Social Democrats and opposition Christian Democrats, have been inching their way toward a “grand coalition”.

Delays in Berlin in deciding government involvement in the DT package could jeopardise talks between company executives and employees’ representatives. These are meant to bring about a preliminary agreement before DT’s supervisory council meets to discuss Mr Ricke’s staff plans on December 12.

“Verdi will reject salaried employees having to shoulder more of the cuts than they should,” Mr Treml said.

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