In 2014 the top two cement producers in the world, Holcim and Lafarge, announced their merger to be completed by mid-2015. The new company would employ some 130,000 workers and have a turnover of Euro 35 billion.
On 23 December 2014 both companies issued press releases about the leading bodies in the formation and announced a new CEO and a chair of the board of directors for the merged company. But so far the agenda of this merger is driven only by higher profits for the shareholders. There is no discussion in either company on the consequences for the workers on whose shoulders the wealth of both companies has been built.
Both companies talk of sustainability as a corner stone of their policy. This is only relevant when employees are not treated as disposable material. In the absence of an open dialogue the announced merger has created uncertainty and despair among the employees. Dismissals and divestments are going on today; and workers and their representatives are not properly involved.
IndustriALL Global Union, Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) have addressed a letter to both companies. The union federations are asking to be acknowledged and involved in discussions concerning consequences for labour rights and working conditions at the earliest stage possible. They are also requesting a meeting to discuss workers’ concerns, as well as a new Global Framework Agreement (GFA) for the new company. The Lafarge group is currently signatory to a GFA with IndustriALL and BWI.
Although neither company in principle declined the invitation, answers given fell far short from the union expectations. The unions will continue to insist on proper discussions.
Workers at Holcim and Lafarge demand the leadership of both companies to:
- Guarantee that conditions of workers in parts of the business being sold off are protected
- Guarantee that all collective agreements in power are honoured by the new merged company
- Commit to maintain the global level social dialogue that Lafarge previously participated in with unions also in the new, merged company
- Consult with workers and their unions in this merger process and beyond
No merger without workers’ rights!