As the German car manufacturer consistently refuses to accord the same rights to its workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, US, as it does in the rest of the world, IndustriALL Global Union is today suspending its long-standing global agreement with Volkswagen.
At IndustriALL Global Union’s executive committee in December last year, there was a unanimous decision to suspend the global framework agreement, called the Declaration on Social Rights and Industrial Relations at Volkswagen, safeguarding workers’ rights, if the German car giant continued to refuse to allow workers at its plant in Chattanooga to join a union.
“We regret Volkswagen’s behaviour and as long as the company refuses to honour its 2002 commitment with IndustriALL we see no other alternative than to consider the agreement suspended as of today, while we consider further actions together with our affiliated unions,” says Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary.
Skilled workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga voted in December 2015 to join US union UAW. Not only has the democratic election result not been recognized in the workplace, Volkswagen is actively fighting it in court, trying to stop the workers from joining a union.
Volkswagen has appealed against a ruling of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in August 2016, which ruled in favour of the UAW, to stop the workers exercising their fundamental right of freedom of association.
In a letter to IndustriALL dated 15 January this year, the company states that it will accept the final ruling of the NLRB, but makes no reference to withdrawing its appeal from the NLRB’s previous ruling in favour of the UAW, which IndustriALL is demanding.
“We have good working relations with Volkswagen elsewhere in the world and suspending the GFA is unfortunate. But the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining is central to us,” Sanches continues.
“The vote held by the skilled workers at the Chattanooga plant is in accordance with ILO Convention No. 87 as well as US law, and Volkswagen must respect the right of the workers to freely choose their union.”
In a meeting in December, 2018 the World Works Council of Volkswagen Workers unanimously declared full solidarity with the VW workers in Chattanooga and defended their legitimate right to join the UAW.