Lafarge and Holcim, the world’s biggest players in the cement industry preparing to merge, have been struck by mobilizations and actions of workers and their unions across the globe.
Workers from both multinationals used the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers on 28 April to express their discontent with occupational safety at their companies.
From 2011 to 2014, almost 300 employees were killed while doing jobs for Holcim or Lafarge. This outrageous number has pushed workers to tell the leadership of both companies that current measures to tackle health and safety concerns are inadequate.
More serious steps and better engagement of both companies is needed before and after the merger in order to secure the most fundamental right of all workers to return home safe and sound at the end of their shift.
At Holcim’s Obourg factory in Belgium, trade unions ACV-CSC BIE and CG FGTB decided to jointly boycott the Safety Day organized by their employer and to organize a work stoppage and a general assembly to inform the workers about the bad performance on occupational health and safety of the company worldwide.
In the Philippines, workers marked the global day of action against Holcim and Lafarge by organizing a march and picket rally at government offices. The Philippine union action ended yesterday in a live radio interview airing the various actions conducted by the unions relative to the events.
In Lebanon, 350 workers at a Holcim plant held a minute’s silence for all the workers who have died while working for the company.
Actions, information sessions and work stoppages were also organized at other sites of Holcim and Lafarge in different countries in all regions of the globe.
IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan said, “This merger, while opening new opportunities to the company main shareholders, cannot ignore those who by their daily work made these companies rich. Workers’ fundamental rights to safety must be respected. No merger without workers’ health and safety rights!”