The Gerdau Workers’ World Council, one of the most active trade union networks of IndustriALL affiliates, met this week in Sorocaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil. The representatives of Gerdau workers in Brazil, Argentina, Canada, United States, Peru, Colombia and Chile discussed the current situation in their countries and prepared for continued coordination to improve working conditions throughout the global operations of steel multinational Gerdau.
The social and financial crisis in Europe was addressed by the Council. Participants understood that the governments of Europe were surrendering their sovereignty to banks and large corporations and decided to support the struggle of European workers pushing for a more equal society.
The Gerdau Workers’ World Council marched on the Spanish Consulate together with the seven Brazilian labour centrals on 14 November, 2012.
Before the march the Council visited the Gerdau plant in Sorocaba, Sao Paulo. The employer blocked access of the Council into the plant so Council members met workers at the plant gates during a shift change. The Council greeted the Gerdau workers and shared with them the situation in many other plants around the world.
Sorocaba workers knew of the difficulties facing Gerdau workers in Colombia and Peru, and of the company recently dismissing a union leader in another Sao Paulo plant, Pindamonhangaba. Sorocaba workers were also already aware of the continuous misinformation by Gerdau management regarding their health and safety record.
Comparison work by the Council proves the trend that weaker bargaining power in a Gerdau plant is directly linked to lower wages and benefits of workers there.
The Council resolved to:
- Support Colombian workers in bargaining
- Demand management’s respect for elected union leaders in Brazil
- Prepare an educational event confronting the “corporate social responsibility” of Gerdau
- Continue fighting for improved occupational health and safety at Gerdau