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19 June, 2013On 3-5 June 2013 trade union representatives of workers employed by the Sappi company met in Johannesburg, where the company has its headquarters, with the aim to create a trade union network at the pulp and paper multinational.
The two-day meeting of unions from Great Britain, USA, Belgium and South Africa was full of discussions, debates, comparisons and unanimity. Each country representative spoke about the relationship between local unions and Sappi management.
Differences in the attitude towards the trade unions in South Africa, the decline of production in Europe as a whole, the company's exit from the markets of the UK, consistently difficult relationship with U.S. trade unions – these are the main points of discussions during the meeting. As a result of the discussions a comparative table was set up reflecting the main points of the situation of workers of the company in four countries.
On the second day, participants had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the management of Sappi. An open exchange of views took place. Representatives of South African trade unions accused the company's administration of secrecy and reluctance to engage in direct and open dialogue with the unions. They suggested that the company should pay more attention to the experience of European practices of relationship between unions and company administration.
On the third day, participants visited one of the company's installations in Johannesburg and met its senior management.
Based on results of the three-day discussions all participants unanimously approved the proposal to create the union network of Sappi company. Among other proposals the delegates suggested to continue exchange of views of the network via internet based tools, to conduct video conferences and to have annual meetings in the countries where Sappi operates. Simon Mofokeng - General Secretary of Chemical Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) was elected as a Chairman of the network until the next meeting.
The participants decided to inform about the results of the meeting their colleagues from Germany, Austria, Holland and Finland who couldn’t attend the meeting, as well as to invite them to next sessions.
Founded in 1936 the global pulp and paper company group Sappi is one of the leaders in production of coated fine paper and chemical cellulose. The company employs 15,100 employees worldwide.