The sixth Tenaris Workers’ World Council was held in Cartagena, Colombia on September 16-18. The meeting was attended by more than 40 trade union delegates representing workers in Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Rumania, Japan and Italy.
Delegates shared information on workplace problems and company policies. For example, they discussed the consequences of social dumping on the international market, which is affecting the national pipeline industry. Delegates emphasised the international nature of this issue and agreed to raise it with the company with a view to identifying areas of agreement and mutually acceptable solutions. The IndustriALL Council will write to the company requesting a meeting to discuss the issue.
Pay was also high on the meeting’s agenda given the company’s policy of reducing labour costs to improve its competitiveness. Delegates understand the company’s need to compete in order to sell its products but do not believe that this should be on the basis of exploiting their employees.
Copies of collective agreements at all plants were distributed and delegates reiterated their commitment to supporting each other during collective bargaining. They welcomed the inclusion of the Japanese union in the network and approved a new logo for use in communications.
Fernando Lopes, IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary, made a presentation to delegates about the structure of the new global union and urged delegates to continue strengthening the unions in their countries and creating international networks, like the Tenaris Workers’ World Council, in order to confront the fierce onslaught of multinational companies throughout the world.
Delegates gave an emotional tribute to co-founders of the committee, Wylie Craig and Giovanni Melchioretti, who have died from natural causes since the last meeting. Delegates recognised their contribution and reaffirmed their own commitment to workers’ struggle.
The hosts had arranged a visit to the Turbaco plant but the company said it would only allow access to the delegates’ bus if they remained on it. It would not allow delegates to get off the bus and make contact with workers at the plant. The delegates decided not to agree to the conditions imposed by the company and parked outside the plant entrance to greet workers at the factory gates.
The committee’s next meeting will be held in Argentina, in the final quarter of 2013.