3 May, 2018For 28 April, hundreds of trade union activists, works councils, shop stewards and workers staged protests at LafargeHolcim operations around the world. Protestors demanded that the cement multinational return to social dialogue and sign global labour agreement with strong provisions for occupational safety to prevent further waste of workers’ health and lives.
In the last two years, more than 150 people have been killed while working for LafargeHolcim, with many more were injured at work. And yet LafargeHolcim continues to expose workers to hazardous substances that cause debilitating and fatal illnesses in the future.
Several workers have already lost their lives in 2018, among them at least two in India and one in Belgium. Unions are asking how many more need to die before LafargeHolcim decides to engage in proper social dialogue and talks with workers and unions about health and safety.
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director for materials industries sector says:
We thought the company had some decency claiming to be world leading for their workers and their rights. But we know that is not true as 35,000 have lost their job and more than 150 people have lost their lives. Shareholders’ high annual dividend of 2 CHF is paid with workers blood, sweat and tears.
Most of the protests and actions were organized on 28 April, the day of commemoration of dead and injured workers, remembering those who gave their lives while working for LafargeHolcim.
Protests took place in, among other places, Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Lebanon, Switzerland, Uganda, USA and Canada. Adding up all the protests around the world show the level of engagement of workers who are fighting for the fundamental human right to live.
All the while LafargeHolcim tries to quiet down workers by only allowing the activities to take place outside of working hours: In Indonesia, management forbade workers to mourn and pray for their killed co-workers around the world, saying this was not work related.
Unions are demanding that LafargeHolcim:
• Start a genuine dialogue with unions, sign a Global Framework Agreement on workers’ rights and a global agreement on occupational health and safety as an integral part of it
• Increase protection for vulnerable workers, especially subcontracted and third party workers, and bring outsourcing in the company under control
• Prioritize the prevention of occupational diseases, including respiratory diseases caused by exposure to dust
• Respect ILO health and safety standards and ensure unions have access to workplaces and the right to make inspections and recommendations.