Vodafone redundancies should be resisted by workers

The announcement on Friday by Vodafone that they are to make 139 workers redundant and that their jobs would be shifted east is the latest sickening blow to workers in the telecommunications sector. It comes in the wake of their former parent eircom’s announcement on Thursday that they are to seek yet another 1,000 voluntary redundancies amongst eircom and Meteor employees.

Responding to the threat to over 100 jobs by Vodafone, Clare Daly TD said:

Vodafone has accumulated massive profits, totalling €2.2bn, since they took over the privatised arm of what was Eircoms mobile phone network. Nor has Vodafone been adversely affected by the economic downturn with the most recent books showing a profit of €120m. Yet the decision to move these jobs to low wage economies in India and Egypt for what they are calling ‘cost and quality’ effectiveness again highlights why the race to the bottom should be rejected by workers and the trade union movement.

The majority of staff affected are call centre and admin staff based in the Dundalk offices, and with call centre workers being amongst some of the most exploited in terms of wages and conditions of employment it is a particularly disgusting move. The company is also refusing to confirm whether there will be further redundancies later in the year.

What is clear is that the CWU’s call for government to intervene will fall on deaf ears as this government and its predecessors has consistently failed to act as thousands of workers in Dundalk and the surrounding areas have seen their jobs disappear. During the ‘boom’ years, the closure of workplaces such as MacArdle Moore, Panasonic and ABB as well as the systematic destruction of traditional industry in the town has seen them replaced by low paid service jobs such as in the call centres of Vodafone and Boyle Sports.

What is needed is a co-ordinated fight back of all telecommunications workers led by the trade union movement. By mobilising ordinary members it is possible to prevent these job losses and to defend conditions.

The price paid by allowing the free market rule in telecommunications has been shown by the decrepit nature of our telecommunications infrastructure in this country. Clearly these workers need to have their jobs protected and should be supported in every way by the trade union movement.