7 September, 2008
From 25-27 August, trade unionists from BASF chemical facilities from seven Asian nations, as well as leaders of the European Works Council, met in Chennai, India, for ICEM’s annual BASF Asia-Pacific Network of Workers. The forum focused on the German company’s increased use of contract workers in the region, and on the need for labour and management at BASF regional worksites to engage in more meaningful social dialogue practices.
ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda participated, as did leaders from Germany’s IGBCE trade union, namely Michael Mersmann and Michael Vassiliadis. BASF Works Council Chairman Robert Oswald and Deputy Chairman Fritz Hofmann also took part, and several management team members from Europe and Asia also attended.
Trade unionists from BASF worksites in Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, and Singapore received a commitment that in 2009, they will undergo a joint ICEM-BASF training programme on social dialogue, international labour standards, and responsible care. They also presented a proposal to the company that its regional headquarters provide data on the number of contract workers and staff from agency labour firms, and the roles such workers perform.
Progress was noted on improvements in health and safety, but concern was expressed about the possible loss of jobs in India and South Korea as BASF divests its global styrenics business early in 2009. In Malaysia and Indonesia, concern was also expressed on the promotion of skilled union leaders to top-level management positions, thus serving to weaken union strength.
Besides the commitment for a 2009 union-building conference and the proposal for exact information on contract labour, conference conclusions included holding regular joint labour-management meetings to assess financial data and work environments, and regional level coordination meetings between the national trade unions every six months.