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Unions mobilize globally for workers’ rights at Holcim Lafarge

26 January, 2015Last week, on 15 January Lafarge and Holcim workers and their supporters in 30 countries organized a series of actions as part of a global campaign launched by IndustriALL Global Union, Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW). 

On this day the message of “No merger without workers’ rights!” resonated globally. The campaign is in response to the failure of the two largest cement companies in the world to engage with trade unions on the effects of the merger on workers.

Over 7,000 protest messages with workers’ demands have already been delivered to the leadership of both companies through the web-based resource LabourStart. More electronic petitions in support of workers’ demands to the leadership of Lafarge and Holcim can be sent via www.labourstart.org/go/nomerger.

A number of trade unions in Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Uganda, and Zimbabwe used the opportunity of the global action day to outreach to workers at the various cement plants operated by Lafarge and Holcim.  Union leaders distributed flyers and explained the implications of the merger on the workers’ future. 

In Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Philippines, and Romania unions mobilized workers and conducted pickets and rallies in front of the Lafarge and Holcim plants.  Following these actions, some of the unions held work stoppages surprising the company management.

Press conferences were organized by unions in Egypt, Nigeria, Mauritania, and Serbia resulting in significant national press coverage. Other countries where actions took place include Cambodia, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand.

The strong global mobilizations are indicative of the anger and frustration of the workers and trade unions at Lafarge and Holcim plants in being side-lined and not consulted throughout the entire merger process,”

stated Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI.

Workers are demanding respect and the first step would be for the Holcim and Lafarge management to include workers and trade unions as the merger moves forward.”

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union commented,

We fully support the workers’ demands on guaranteeing the respect of existing collective agreements, and the conditions of workers in parts of the business that will be sold off, as wel as maintaining global level social dialogue and a framework agreement.”

The three unions will continue to coordinate further actions until their key demands are met by the Lafarge and Holcim.