ICEM/IMF, Umicore GFA Monitoring Committee visits North America

10.03.2012

Following the renewal of the global framework agreement (GFA) between the IMF and the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) and Umicore in September 2011, the Monitoring Committee conducted a visit at the company's operation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, March 6 and 7, 2012.

USA/GLOBAL: The Umicore Autocat USA Inc. plant in Tulsa was taken over from Delphi in 2007 and is organized by the IMF-affiliated International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) through Local 286. Geographically close to major auto-makers, the plant produces catalysts that are used in automotive emission abatement systems for both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles.

Along with the Umicore Monitoring Committee members, Ignace De Ruijter, Senior Vice President of Human Resources; Guy Ethier, Senior Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety; Mark Dolfyn, Director of Corporate Human Resource; Kemal Özkan, ICEM Director of Industry and Corporate Affairs, representing IMF as well; Peter Kamm, Umicore's European Works Council and member of ICEM German affiliate IGBCE, the visit was joined by local company managers and UAW local representatives.

The Monitoring Committee followed the same pattern of working as in the previous three such missions in China, Brazil and South Africa. A wide range of information on employment, training & education, health & safety, environmental issues, social policies & working conditions, social dialogue and relations with the local community was delivered and discussed at the visit. As it supplies to major auto-producers, the plant suffered severely during the crisis period in 2008 with a substantial decline in employment levels. However with recovery in the US auto industry in 2009, Umicore's Tulsa plant has started to improve its business by creating more employment, but still being far below the level of the pre-crisis period. The local management and union representatives explained to the Monitoring Committee how the crisis period was handled through the industrial relations system at the plant. It was further reported that at the collective bargaining negotiations in 2009, a more institutionalized procedure for conducting such periods was defined and agreed.

Özkan and Kamm, together with UAW local shop stewards, James Cyr, Bargaining Chair; Warren McKinley, Co-Chair; Lance Boyd, Representative; and Curtis Storey, Representative met in a separate union meeting to exchange information and discuss the labour situation at the plant. The union meeting examined current working conditions, the collective agreement and social dialogue at the plant, which was followed by a briefing on the nature and content of the global framework agreement. It was agreed that continuous communication would be continued between the UAW local union and the European Works Council.

In evaluating the visit, the parties jointly committed to quality labour relations and social dialogue at the plant. Particular attention and appreciation was expressed for the high quality of health and safety practices conducted by joint union-management health and safety committee at the workplace. The Monitoring Committee will finalize its report at its meeting scheduled for the end of May.

Umicore is a global materials technology group focusing on four business areas, namely Catalysis, Energy Materials, Performance Materials, and Recycling. The Umicore Group has industrial operations on all continents and serves a global customer base; it generated a turnover of €14.5 billion (€2.3 billion excluding metal) in 2011 and currently employs some 14,600 people.