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IndustriALL in solidarity with 40,000 striking Verizon workers

4 May, 2016IndustriALL Global Union has expressed its solidarity with around 40,000 Verizon communications workers in the United States that have been on strike since 13 April.

The workers, who are members of the Communications Workers of America union (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), are protesting against proposals by one of the biggest providers of broadband, mobile and wireless communication services in the USA to close call centres in favour of outsourcing and sending work offshore.

Unions are also protesting against Verizon’s plans to send technicians 700 miles from home on rotating two-month or even four-month shifts, which would entail massive disruption to the lives of workers and their families.

In addition, the company, which has made US$39 billion in profits over the past three years, is asking some call centre employees to commute up to two-hours each way if they want to keep their jobs.

Unions have been in negotiations with Verizon since last June to form a new contract that expired on 1 August 2015.

The company has already offshored 5,000 call centre jobs, mainly to the Philippines and Mexico, and wants to outsource more.

Technicians complain of Verizon’s failure to staff networks adequately and being subjected to forced overtime. Meanwhile, CWA says customers are being pressured into switching home phone lines to fibre-optic lines, so that the company can concentrate on developing fibre-optic instead of maintaining existing networks.

The company is feeling the pressure of the strike. There are picket lines at around 300 Verizon wireless stores, which unions believe are affecting footfall and sales. At the same time, customer opinion of Verizon has hit a three-year low with reports of delays, unsafe work practices and poor service being provided by untrained management replacement workers.

In a letter of solidarity with Verizon workers, Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, said:

“We strongly believe that Verizon has a social responsibility to protect middle-class jobs and build a stronger company with its skilled and experienced workers, rather than outsourcing work.  Furthermore, the company must immediately start bargaining with unions in good faith to achieve sustainable employment for the future.”

Negotiations between unions and Verizon continue.