Over 60 delegates representing workers of the two merging leading cement multinationals, Lafarge and Holcim from, all continents, gathered on 16 and 17 June in Egerkingen, Switzerland, discussed challenges and negative consequences faced by the workforce during and after the mega-merger process.
The delegates raised their anger and concerns about the outcomes of the merger on the ground, and evaluated effects of the global campaign and local union actions taken so far in response to complacency by the company and lack of genuine social dialogue with proper information and consultation.
Three global action days took place since the beginning of the year with large participation in different corners of the world.
A representative of the French-based merger partner Lafarge was present at the meeting and received tough questions and criticism from the participants. They expressed their uneasiness over the dismissals related to restructuring of the company as well as to divestment without recognition of fundamental rights. Particular cases in India, Indonesia, Italy and Belgium were especially reported as worrying because of large number of unjustified dismissals and uncertainty about workers’ and their families’ future without seeking any other alternative way.
The future of labour relations and social dialogue at global and local levels were questioned, and extension of the current global framework agreement (GFA) with the new entity was heavily demanded. Proper regulations for employees’ participation and occupational health and safety remain a major concern for all Lafarge and Holcim employees.
The participants were extremely outraged that Holcim management failed to come to the conference and have a discussion with the workers.
The workers’ representatives then debated on further steps of escalation of pressure on the management of the future company.
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Assistant general secretary says,
We came together at this global union committee meeting to discuss workers' key demands arising from the merger of the two world’s largest cement companies Holcim and Lafarge. We are always open to a genuine dialogue, but it is an inacceptable arrogance of the Holcim management not to even talk to their workers’ representatives although this meeting was known months ago."