19 January, 2017Precarious work and health and safety topped the list of concerns at a meeting of IndustriALL Global Union affiliates at LafargeHolcim cement plants in India from 16-17 January 2017.
During the two-day workshop in Nagpur, unions shared experiences and discussed strategies to strengthen union power, defend workers' rights and improve social dialogue.
Indian affiliates have expressed deep concern over the growing use of contract workers in production activities at LafargeHolcim plants. They are employed under precarious conditions with low wages and often paid less than one third of the pay of a regular worker. Indian affiliates resolved to work more intensely to improve working conditions, wages and social security for all workers in the cement sector in the country.
Unionists expressed serious concern over health and safety. They pointed to an alarming increase in the number of fatalities at LafargeHolcim plants. Most of the victims were contract workers, and some regular workers were also killed. Unfortunately India is leading in these regrettable statistics.
Unions also held frank discussions with Feliciano Gonzalez, Corporate Head of Labour Relations and Social Policies at LafargeHolcim, who joined the meeting via a conference call. They called on Gonzalez to see that LafargeHolcim immediately increase its efforts to improve the health and safety of workers, including subcontracted workers, across cement plants in India, in consultation with unions. They also repeated demands for a real commitment from the company to address workers’ concerns as emphasized in the Hyeres Declaration made during the LafargeHolcim world union conference in October 2016.
During the meeting in Nagpur, unions also examined the successes and challenges of the work plan that was adopted in Delhi in February 2016 and devised an organizing plan for the future.
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL Director for Materials Industries, said:
It is encouraging to see growing cooperation between the cement affiliates to improve workers’ rights at LafargeHolcim. The decision to adopt a concrete work plan that contains specific responsibilities and tasks to reduce precarious work and increase organizing and recruiting, is proof of the growing maturity of our strategic work.
Apoorva Kaiwar IndustriALL South Asia Regional Secretary said:
IndustriALL affiliates in the cement sector in India are committed to organizing more workers, especially precarious workers. This will help in building union power in the cement sector, especially at LafargeHolcim, and will greatly contribute in increasing IndustriALL’s influence in the sector in the region.