17 May, 2019On 16-17 May, unions from four continents met in Frankfurt to coordinate their joint demand for labour rights throughout the operations of Fresenius. The German based multinational company is a market leading private health care provider, owning hospitals, dialysis clinics, and producing medicines and medical devices.
In parallel to the Fresenius Group holding its annual general shareholders’ meeting in Frankfurt, Fresenius worker representatives shared stories of serious malpractice by the employer in blocking the rights to organize and conduct collective bargaining in several countries.
In response to these problems, the meeting launched the Fresenius Global Union Alliance that will seek a structured global relationship with Fresenius, including a mechanism through which to raise and solve violations of fundamental worker rights.
This means that one of the clear targets of the new Alliance is to negotiate and sign a Global Framework Agreement (GFA) with Fresenius.
This is the first global network bringing the three global unions together. While IndustriALL Global Union has GFAs together with both UNI and PSI, a successful GFA with Fresenius will be the first time the three combine. It is also the first global trade union network at a health care company.
Fresenius is structured through four divisions. IndustriALL Global Union affiliates organize in the pharmaceutical production division called Kabi. Fresenius Medical Care mainly provides dialysis for patients with chronic kidney failure. Fresenius Helios is Germany’s largest hospital operator. Fresenius Vamed runs healthcare facilities.
“Lax controls and poor oversight do not stop at Fresenius Medical Care,” said David Boys, Deputy General Secretary of Public Services International. “Frontline employees describe a broken labour relations culture in several of the company’s divisions in various regions.”
“Our message to Fresenius is clear: the entire company needs a strong due diligence plan,” said Alke Boessiger, Deputy General Secretary of UNI Global Union. “Fresenius must guarantee respect for labour rights throughout its operations. A Global Agreement is a proven due diligence instrument.”
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary, commented:
“This international trade union group offers Fresenius the opportunity to build positive industrial relations at its operations around the world. We hope that the company will now work with us to build a robust mechanism for our international relationship.”