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Unions at LafargeHolcim pledge to intensify campaign

10 March, 2021The world union council of LafargeHolcim is calling on the cement giant to respect workers' rights, protect jobs, ensure workers' health and safety at work and drastically reduce precarious work.

The demand came out of an online meeting where more than 100 participants from 42 countries discussed union strategies to demand an end to LafargeHolcim’s bad labour practices.

“LafargeHolcim must recognize unions, so we must be more offensive and put pressure on the company,”

said BWI general secretary Ambet Yuson.  

In 2020, five workers at LafargeHolcim's operations lost their lives at work, four of them employed by subcontractors. These work-related accidents could have been prevented, and at the same time, workers are being exposed to dangerous working conditions, excessive working hours and a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).  

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary said:

“An important role for this union network is to speak up and demand our rights. And we demand respect for fundamental workers’ rights, including health and safety where LafargeHolcim has a bad track record.”

Many of the participants took to the floor to report on the situation for LafargeHolcim workers in their country. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is not only a health crisis but an economic one, hitting workers hard. In Uganda, workers have been forced eat and sleep at work for up to two weeks, and there is a significant lack of PPE.

In the last five years, LafargeHolcim has reduced its number of employees by 33,547, while at the same time increasing subcontracting. At many operations, outsourced labour, represents the vast majority of the company workforce.

Contract workers make up a large proportion of the workforce in Zimbabwe as well. Violations of workers’ rights have increased; 60 per cent of the subcontractors were sent home without pay and the 40 per cent who remained were forced to stay a month on the company premises.  

In Jordan, LafargeHolcim has tampered with local agreements and refuses to pay into pension funds.

The world Union Council of LafargeHolcim expressed solidarity with the Colombian paper workers trade union Sintracarcol and its members who face mass redundancy, union busting and breaching of the collective bargaining agreement at Cartones de Colombia, the company manufacturing cement sacks for LafargeHolcim.

In a statement, unanimously adopted at the end of the meeting, the world union council of LafargeHolcim stand in solidarity with all workers and their unions at LafargeHolcim’s operations worldwide.

 

As LafargeHolcim systematically fails to prevent, mitigate or remediate its human rights issues, especially the labour conditions at its global subsidiaries and subcontractors, the statement demands the bad labour practices must end.

Among other things, LafargeHolcim must:

  • Stop violations of fundamental workers' rights in Bangladesh, Colombia, El Salvador, India, Mauritius, Jordan, the Philippines and Uganda
  • Eliminate the abuse of subcontracted and third-party workers
  • Fully respect collective bargaining agreements, national laws, and public authorities' recommendations
  • Recognize the right of workers to a healthy and safe work place as a fundamental right and put zero fatalities target as a top priority
  • Strengthen industrial relations and consultation with unions on mitigating the impact of Covid-19

In order to put pressure on LafargeHolcim to respect workers’ rights, the network decided on an action plan to increase their campaign. This will include pushing for a global framework agreement, mobilizing for a global day of action and to engage with investors ahead of the company’s annual general meeting on 4 May.