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Unions bring workers’ demands to Holcim shareholder’s meeting

14 April, 2015On 13 April a noisy crowd of shouting and whistling workers and union activists gathered in front of Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland, where Holcim held its Annual general meeting (AGM) of shareholders.

Representatives of IndustriALL Global Union, Building and Wood Workers’ International and European Federation of Building and Woodworkers unions and their affiliates attended the annual Holcim shareholders' meeting. The unions spoke about workers’ concerns and demands, which remain neglected in the mega-merger between two cement world leaders Holcim and Lafarge.

The union activists distributed leaflets explaining workers' concerns about the consequences of the ongoing merger to the shareholders. Many of the Holcim shareholders were not aware of the situation and listened to the explanations, prepared in different languages. Some shareholders escaped any contact with the workers who toil for their profits and dividends.

A union delegation attended the AGM and spoke to the shareholders. Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, said:

“Soon you, ladies and gentlemen shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting will decide whether Holcim merges with Lafarge. The price of the Holcim shares on the stock market shows that the merger is profitable for shareholders.

“But where is light, there is often a lot of shade. In order to obtain approval for this merger, the two companies have to sell a number of units and factories. This has consequences for at least 15,000 employees of both companies. Many of them will end up with CRH [another construction materials company]. And no one has so far agreed to provide guarantees for employees. What CRH, Holcim and Lafarge offered is the mere legal MINIMUM.

“Indeed 15'000 employees who have mastered the money for the merger and now are moved to CRH, have no guarantees for their future and pay now with fear of losing their job for the success of the merger.”

A declaration of workers' rights at Holcim and Lafarge has been signed by the workers and their representatives and installed in front of the entry to the meeting hall.

The Declaration reads, “We, the representatives of Holcim and Lafarge employees in Europe and around the world, expect the management of Holcim and Lafarge honour their social responsibility and their declared promises to "their" employees, who by their own labour have made the success of the merger possible in the first place.”

The text of the declaration was finalized by a list of demands to the Holcim shareholders:

  • Job security for at least 2 years for all employees in the new group and in business units that are to be sold;
  • Strict observance of the duty to inform and consult employee representatives;
  • Immediate negotiations on a European Works Council for the new company.
  • Immediate negotiations on a new Global framework agreement, including regulations governing job security and occupational health and safety provisions;
  • Adherence to the social dialogue at all levels and in all geographical regions;
  • Reporting to shareholders on the progress of the social dialogue.

Show you support for the Holcim and Lafarge workers’ campaign for their rights at http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=2634