More than 60 delegates representing workers of two merging cement multinationals Lafarge and Holcim from all continents gathered on 16 and 17 June in Egerkingen, Switzerland to discuss challenges and consequences faced by the workforce during and after the mega-merger process.
The delegates raised their concerns about the on-going process of the merger and evaluated the results of the union campaigns taken so far in response to the lack of genuine social dialogue with proper information and consultation. The participants also discussed further steps to escalate pressure on the management of the new company that purposely avoids proper negotiations about the future of workers both remaining at and leaving the company. The Egerkingen meeting reiterated the motto of “No merger without workers’ rights”.
IndustriALL Global Union, Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) and European Federation of Building and Wood Workers (EFBWW) delegates invited the management of both Lafarge and Holcim for an open discussion of workers’ concerns. However, only Lafarge participated while Holcim decided to unilaterally ignore the voice of workers by refusing to come to the meeting.
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Assistant general secretary says: "We came together at this global union committee meeting to discuss workers' key demands arising from the merger of the two world’s largest cement companies Holcim and Lafarge. We are always open to a genuine dialogue, but it is unacceptable arrogance from the Holcim management not to even talk to their workers’ representatives when they knew about this meeting months ago. We believe that if a company seeks success, it must include open labour relations based on respect of fundamental rights. Holcim´s refusal to enter into this dialogue is an obvious provocation."
Fiona Murie, BWI Global Director Construction and Health and Safety, "We welcome the attendance of our conference by Lafarge representative clearly proving that unlike their partners in the merger Lafarge is more committed to the principles of social dialogue. We keep our hope that this interest of at least one of the key players would eventually move the entire future company to the good practices of solid based social partnership relations."
Sam Hägglund, EFBWW General Secretary, "We are certainly upset by this attitude of Holcim. We remain open to a dialogue. But if we are not listened to, we will use all possible mechanisms, including the OECD complaints system and other possible legal options as well as on-site industrial actions. A company that shows such disrespect towards its own workers must be named and shamed in front of the world."
Fiona Murie, BWI, +41 22 827 3786
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL, +41 79 945 57 26
Sam Hägglund, EFBWW, +32 475 84 06 51
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IndustriALL Global Union - represents 50 million workers in 143 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and is a force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world. For more informationhttp://www.industriall-union.org/
BWI - The Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) is the global union federation for unions covering workers in the building, building materials, wood, forestry and related areas of work. The BWI has 335 national affiliates in 131 countries with a global membership of 12 million. For more information http://www.bwint.org/
EFBWW - The European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) is the European Industry Federation for the construction industry, the building materials industry, the wood and furniture industry and the forestry industry. The EFBWW has 76 affiliated unions in 34 countries and represents a total of 2,000,000 members. For more information http://www.efbww.org/