Over 30 trade union representatives from 11 countries in the Saint-Gobain trade union network met in Paris in the headquarters of the IndustriALL affiliate CGT VERRE & CERAMIQUE on 21 and 22 November and discussed the status and developments in Saint-Gobain Group. The participants also met with a company corporate management representative.
The multi-sector Saint-Gobain Group employs approximately 170,000 direct employees all over the world. In addition, the company claims to provide over 550,000 jobs globally throughout its value chain in purchasing, contracting and so on. Working conditions are generally better for the direct employees of the group, but social responsibility goes beyond that. The global union network did a first assessment regarding precarious work in Saint-Gobain. The participating unions confirmed that they would continue working on this issue in the next years.
During the meeting, the union delegates also had the opportunity to debate with Mr Regis Blugeon, head of social dialogue at Saint-Gobain over chances to develop the social dialogue with the group at a global level.
In the course of their discussion with the management representative, trade unions raised open labour issues in several countries, particularly Turkey, where IndustriALL affiliate Kristal-IS has struggled for recognition for years while local management has tried to delay the process through legal loopholes. On behalf of their unions the participants requested the company to help solve these issues. In some cases, Mr Blugeon signalled the company’s readiness to do this.
Saint-Gobain is a company going through the a constant process of transformation. The group’s focus on digitization and Industry 4.0 represents challenges for workers worldwide, and cooperation with trade unions is crucial in order to tackle them.
Mr Blugeon confirmed that although Saint-Gobain is present globally, they prefer to act at their operations in accordance with local realities. The company maintains strong social dialogue at the European level, adhering to its French identity and the European traditions of social dialogue and employees’ involvement. The participants noted as a positive the fact that a corporate representative attended the meeting and entered into a dialogue with the unions outside Europe.
The network took several important decisions:
- The network will continue its work and strive for the establishment of a regular and structured social dialogue with the company‘s management. To this end, the network requests continuing support from IndustriALL Global Union.
- The network steering committee will meet in March 2018 to prepare the next steps.
- The main focuses of the network will include:
- The challenges resulting from the development of Industry 4.0 in the materials industries,
- The fight against precarious work, and
- The stronger involvement of workers in the occupational health and safety in the group around the world.
Dominique Bousquenaud from IndustriALL affiliate Fédération Chimie Energie CFDT will be the network coordinator for the next period. The existing steering committee, including other affiliates present in the sector, will govern the network in the future.
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director for materials industries, added:
“The network has proven it is ready to enter into a mature social dialogue with Saint-Gobain. In its turn, the company has shown its readiness to also discuss with the non-European trade unions. The challenges of the digital revolution in a company like Saint-Gobain demands the involvement of trade unions on a global level. If Saint-Gobain wants to stay one of the global top 100 employers, we need strong social dialogue that also involves workers across their entire value chain.“