The Chief Executive of the giant German phone company Deutsche Telekom has appealed to his staff to accept swingeing restructuring, or face the prospect of having parts of the company sold off.
The union, Verdi, is furious with the proposals, and is to decide on a strike vote by the end of the week.
At the company’s AGM in Cologne, the man charged with streamlining Deutsche Telekom, chief executive Rene Obermann warned that the needs of the employees are not the only concerns – and that investors also had demands which need to be addressed.
A quarter of a million people are on the payroll, 180,000 of them in Germany. Obermann wants 50,000 staff to work more for less money – hoping to trim up to 4.7-billion euros from his wages bill.
Analaysts say the former state owned monopoly, which is still a third-owned by the German government, is lagging behind the likes of BT in the UK, partly because it has failed to slim-down its huge workforce.
And that is showing in a domestic market driven by fierce competition, and smaller rivals who are faster to react to changes.
Obermann gave what he called a sign of solidarity to his staff, saying that were they to accept lower wages, management would give up a month’s salary, and he personally would forego double that.