One of the major issues in the glass sector is to ensure a sustainable industrial production not only in Europe, but all over the world. Trade union representatives from thirteen countries and three major glass multinational corporations (MNC) last week met in Korea to discuss their future work in the sector.
On 29 – 30 October, representatives from IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in the glass sector met for a vivid exchange about their experiences with global MNC’s and to develop action plans for trade union network. Participants developed action plans for the three major groups present (Owens-Illinois, Owens-Corning and Saint-Gobain). Delegates also call upon Saint-Gobain to enter into social dialogue with Indian trade unions.
The use of various forms of precarious work in the sector is widespread; outsourcing, subcontracting and agency work are common both in the sheet glass and container glass. Hazardous working conditions are another major issue for unions in the industry, like the exposure to carcinogenic substances without proper protection equipment in India.
The participating trade union representatives agreed that the existing European Works Councils (EWC), acting within all major glass groups, need to have a central role and link Europe, the Americas, India and Latin America.
An important part of the network meeting is bringing delegates from all over the world together to support them in developing their own network. As one delegate says:
“This is our meeting, WE have networked with each other and made new friends so that now I know whom to call if we need international coordination and joint action. We have developed a specific work plan for our group”
The delegates also adopted unanimously a declaration of solidarity with Indian glass workers at Saint-Gobain Crystals, where trade unions are not respected, activists suspended or even dismissed (see the declaration on the right hand side)
IndustriALL director, Matthias Hartwich, states with a view to the action plans adopted:
Glass workers from Asia to the USA made a good start, now we have to ensure that these plans are put into practice. We need strong trade union networks in the glass sector in order to tackle the challenges in the sector in the future. Hazardous working conditions and precarious work are today’s main concerns for glass workers all over the world. We support the work to make workers and their trade unions respected partners in the sector.