6 December, 2016Workers at LafargeHolcim are holding a global day of action in advance of the 10 December International Human Rights Day to draw attention to the world’s largest cement maker’s widespread violations of workers’ rights.
Workers in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas will mobilize, take actions and demand that LafargeHolcim respect workers’ rights because “Workers’ rights are human rights”.
Rights violations that the action will highlight include:
- LafargeHolcim had 50 workplace fatalities in 2015, and workplace fatalities have dramatically increased in 2016.
- The company is increasing its use of precarious employment around the world, even though its fatality rate among these workers is higher than with direct employees.
- LafargeHolcim locked out and illegally replaced workers in British Columbia, Canada during an ongoing dispute after earlier this year illegally replacing workers during a strike in Quebec, Canada.
- The company was accused this year of using child labour in Uganda, where reportedly it also specifically targeted union members for dismissal during restructuring.
- LafargeHolcim has not remedied the unfair treatment of families who lost their land due to the development of a plant in the Ambuja region of India that the company now owns.
- After reducing employee levels and increasing workloads in Indonesia, the company is responding to workplace accidents by disciplining and threatening to dismiss workers.
Unions are demanding that LafargeHolcim use less precarious work, cooperate better with trade unions on health and safety and restructuring, and enter into meaningful negotiations with them about the future of labour relations and social dialogue.
“Since Lafarge and Holcim merged last year, there have been numerous workplace fatalities, precarious work has increased, the company has recklessly restructured and management has broken promises to reach a global agreement for a positive relationship with unions. We cannot wait any longer while our brothers and sisters die at work. LafargeHolcim workers around the world are standing up and demanding change,” said IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Valter Sanches.
“The right to decent work, safe working conditions and dignity are basic human rights that workers at LafargeHolcim should have; however, instead of respecting these fundamental rights, the company has repeatedly put corporate interests ahead of the rights of its workers. Today, on this global day of action LafargeHolcim workers will mobilize and show the power of the people by calling on the management to immediately adhere to their demands,” said Building and Wood Workers' International general secretary Ambet Yuson.
“We expect that the world number one in the cement sector is not only number one in figures and cement sales, but also in labour standards and workers’ rights,” said general secretary of the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) Sam Hägglund. “We think that this is also part of future benchmarking. LafargeHolcim owes its workers the respect for their rights. We cannot understand why it took nearly one and a half years after the merger to negotiate a new joint European Works Councils Agreement, where European Workers’ Rights are defined, especially the right to information and consultation. We call upon LafargeHolcim management to enter into a real social dialogue about the future of this world number one in the cement sector.”