On 28 April, a 32-year old contract worker, who had been with the ACC-Holcim plant at Jamul, India, for ten years, was crushed to death by a falling tree. The workplace accident occurred while gathering firewood for the coal mill.
Holcim claims to have very strict occupational health and safety standards, yet this is not the first fatal accident in one of their operations. The accident again highlights the plight of contract workers, who are routinely given dangerous jobs with minimal safety precautions. Last year five workers died under a collapsing silo in another nearby Holcim plant.
In 2010 two workers including one contract worker were killed and two contract workers injured by melted coal while repairing the coal hopper in the power plant of ACC-Jamul.
More than 50 per cent of all fatal workplace accidents happen in Asia, and most of them in India. The majority of the dead and injured are contract workers. IndustriALL Global Union affiliate PCSS represents contract workers in the Indian cement industry, and have lodged a complaint with the OECD over the treatment of contract workers in India.
In 2013, Holcim started talks with global union federations IndustriALL and the BWI on a global occupational health and safety agreement. These talks were never finalized
IndustriALL Director for Mechanical Engineering and Materials Industries Matthias Hartwich says:
“We appeal to Holcim to take their responsibility towards their workers, regardless whether they are permanent or contract workers. One killed worker is one too many, and Holcim’s track record shows that something is fundamentally wrong.”
IndustriALL demands that Holcim to not only start proper negotiations regarding health and safety, but also start negotiations on a global framework agreement in order to improve workers’ participation. The time is now!