Hamburg Since the Putin regime’s attack on Ukraine, Deutsche Telekom has been fighting over the fate of its Russian sites in Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Voronezh. As part of an internal event, CEO Timotheus Höttges had only informed the employees on Friday that a solution was still being worked on.
Now two management bodies of the employees have called on the Management Board to abandon the branches and to cut off all business relations in the country. Corresponding resolutions, which are available to Handelsblatt, were adopted by both the Group Works Council (KBR) and the General Works Council (GBR) by the end of last week.
The Executive Board headed by Höttges should end “business relations in and with Russia” and close “its own employment sites in Russia,” according to the statement of the GBR, which represents the employees at the headquarters and the “Group Services”.
In the resolution of the KBR, responsible for the entire Group, the framework is broader. It deals with “concepts and binding guidelines” of the Supervisory Board and the Executive Board to ensure that “business relationships take place exclusively with and in countries” that clearly stand for compliance with the United Nations Charter on Human Rights. This also means Russia, stressed the KBR chairman Kerstin Marx.
The demands of the works councils put the Management Board in an awkward position in Bonn. So far, he had avoided a concrete positioning and held on to the locations. In the short term, it was said, the projects of the Russian colleagues could not be transferred to other countries.
Deutsche Telekom currently employs more than 2,000 people in Russia, but does not generate any significant sales there. The Russian developers and IT specialists are mainly working on projects for the parent company in Bonn. This includes, for example, the expansion of fiber optics in Germany or the new open-RAN architecture of the mobile network. Many of these projects are about Deutsche Telekom’s core business. The employees are therefore not easy to replace.
Employees fear for the reputation of Deutsche Telekom
In the background, therefore, provision was made. For example, Deutsche Telekom transferred money to Russia in a timely manner so as not to jeopardize the payment of employees despite sanctions. According to CFO Christian Illek, the Group also took precautions to secure the supply of IT equipment. Meanwhile, the access of Russian employees to important internal systems has been blocked
However, the employee representatives would like a clearer attitude of the Group management. They see the reputation of Telekom, whose largest shareholder is the Federal Republic of Germany, in danger. Other Dax groups such as Volkswagen have already clearly positioned themselves in Russia. So far, Deutsche Telekom has only referred internally to the Group’s commitment and donations for Ukrainian refugees.
“We expect an answer in the course of this week,” GBR chairman Constantin Greve told Handelsblatt. It was about “a clear reaction of the board,” said KBR chairman Marx. “From our point of view, we need to rethink our involvement in Russia.“ So far, the Board has not commented specifically on this. Greve and Marx are also members of the Group’s Supervisory Board.
A Telekom spokesman said that “there are no Russian customers and no business relations with Russia”. “Therefore, we see ourselves in line with the resolution of the KBR.“
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