IndustriALL chair for the sector, Rainer Wimmer (middle), leads the discussions at the lifts and escalators meeting in Vienna in 2014.

IndustriALL affiliates in the lifts and escalators sector unanimously adopted the resolution on safety at the IndustriALL mechanical engineering conference in Bern, Switzerland in November, 2015

IndustriALL challenges major lifts and escalators companies over safety

19.07.2016

IndustriALL has laid down the gauntlet to four of the world’s biggest lifts and escalators companies demanding better safety in the sector. 

IndustriALL has written to ThyssenKrupp, Otis, Schindler and Kone with a detailed list of objectives to improve safety in the installation and maintenance of lifts and escalators, and an offer for joint talks about how to achieve the goals.

A resolution of demands, adopted by representatives of IndustriALL affiliates from the sector at the Mechanical Engineering Conference in Bern last year, has been developed and now published.  Entitled ‘Work and Technical Security in the Lifts and Escalators Sector’, unions demand employers in the sector work with them to ensure the safety of workers, technicians and customers.

IndustriALL’s mechanical engineering sector chair and chair of Austrian affiliate PRO-GE, Rainer Wimmer, said:

"Safety first, that goes without saying, for lifts and escalators technicians and installers, but also for users and customers. We must do everything in our power to avoid accidents and fatalities in the sector. That is why we are calling on employers for a joint approach. Among other things, we demand that in the future only certified and approved companies and technicians are allowed to install and maintain lifts and escalators. Only professionally trained experts should be employed as technicians. Outsourcing to subcontractors without technical expertise, who then in return employ non-qualified contract workers, has got to stop."

The resolution contains eight core demands from IndustriALL unions in the sector:

1. Installation and maintenance must be done by registered companies that comply with the regulations of the sector. (i.e. the Lift Directive)

2. Workers must achieve the required competences and licenses for carrying out installation and maintenance. Workers should be employed by the authorized contracting companies, and outsourced and freelance labour should be minimized. In addition, companies must report the fulfilment of these requirements to the authorities.

3. Registered companies must report periodically a list of employees to the supervising authorities.

4. It is essential to have transparency and access to information concerning the fulfilment of the safety and service level requirements by authorized companies. We must foster the implementation of tools and systems to guarantee that this information is available for all stakeholders, and also for the customers who contract the services.

5. To study ways to limit and minimize the subcontracting of freelance workers or non-authorized companies in the sector.

6. Authorized companies must sign liability insurance and guarantee that it covers the subcontracting companies used in installation and maintenance activities, and also their workers.

7. To recommend the recruitment of regional safety delegates and demand special procedures for dangerous activities within the sector.

8. To demand that companies with serious and repeated failures have their authorization removed.

Cooperation between management and workers in the Lifts and Escalators sector is crucial to achieve these goals. Management needs the expertise of their employees, while employees and customers need the commitment of management that goes beyond lip service.

The resolution has evolved from a 2014 meeting in Austria, where IndustriALL outlined demands in its Vienna Declaration.

Matthias Hartwich, director in charge of the sector at IndustriALL, said:

“We did not just discuss and adopt another resolution. What we have achieved is an in-depth discussion between trade union representatives and works councils around the world about the future of the lifts and escalators sector as a whole. We know what we want and need. It is a great pleasure having such an active group that has managed over the years to create such a working relationship. Now it’s up to the companies to take up our offer and enter into a social dialogue, to really profit from the knowledge and dedication of their employees and trade unions. I do hope they use this unique chance.”