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Global Union Federations ICEM, BWI, PSI Sign Global Framework Agreement with GDF SUEZ

19 November, 2010


Three Global Union Federations, representing a total of 52 million workers worldwide, signed a Global Framework Agreement this week with GDF SUEZ, the world’s second largest gas, water services, and electric utility. The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine, General Workers’ Unions (ICEM), the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), and Public Services International (PSI) reached a “Global Agreement on Fundamental Rights, Social Dialogue, and Sustainable Development” following productive negotiations with Paris-based GDF SUEZ.

The agreement contains best practice language regarding trade union rights, including full respect for International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise), Convention 98 (Right to Organise and Bargaining Collectively), and Convention 135 (the Workers’ Representatives Convention), and a number of other international instruments. GDF SUEZ pledges to facilitate access to employees by trade unions or workers’ representatives in a spirit of cooperation and transparency.

The Global Framework Agreement also commits the parties to “positive and constructive industrial relations inside all GDF SUEZ companies,” as well as promoting such practices with business partners. It sets forth a framework regarding employee training, health and safety, and stable and sustainable employment, including priority on direct employment and adherence of company subcontractors to pay social security and pension contributions for their workers. Because of the nature of their work, another important commitment of the company that was agreed is to respect the principles contained in ILO Convention 94 related to labour clauses in public procurement.

Left to right: BWI Assistant General Secretary Marion Hellmann, ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda, GDF SUEZ CEO Gérard Mestrallet

It also pledges environmental stewardship that enjoins labour and management to combat climate change, protect workers’ rights and interests in accord with the principles of Just Transition, and supports efforts to control the impact on the environment of the company’s resources and activities.

It commits GDF SUEZ, the three Global Union Federations, and trade unions to cooperative social dialogue to achieve additional agreements, including on training, occupational heath and safety, restructuring, and sustainable development and climate change. (See the agreement here.)

ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda said: “This agreement embodies social principles that truly stand out in terms of corporate conduct. ICEM intends to hold these principles to be the new measuring bar for Global Framework Agreements.”

Added BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson, “Employers such as GDF SUEZ have a significant influence in shaping labour policy and practices and we believe this agreement will improve the working and living conditions of tens of thousands of building workers.”

Peter Waldorff, PSI General Secretary, said, “We want to make clear our position as a global union: PSI opposes privatisation of public services and will always defend publicly-owned and operated public services. However, this agreement affirms our commitment to work together with our affiliates, Global Union Federations, and GDF SUEZ to develop and strengthen social dialogue and to ensure that the agreement is understood by managers and trade union leaders and applied in all regions and countries.”

GDF SUEZ Chairman and CEO Gérard Mestrallet said: “The signature of this worldwide agreement puts a seal on the Group’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility. It illustrates the vitality of the social dialogue at GDF SUEZ that has always been an engine of our industrial development.”

ICEM, representing GDF SUEZ workers in the gas and electric energy sectors, covers 20 million union members of 467 national trade unions in 132 countries. BWI, covering GDF SUEZ workers in building, construction, and energy services, represents 12 million workers through 328 trade union affiliates in 130 countries. PSI, representing water and waste treatment workers of GDF SUEZ, has membership of 20 million and affiliation of 650 trade unions in 150 countries.

GDF SUEZ has a total global workforce of 200,650 workers and operates in 40 countries.

For further information, contact: Dick Blin (ICEM Information Officer), [email protected], +41 22 304 1842; Geneviève Kalina (BWI Information Officer), [email protected], +41 22 827 3786; Teresa Marshall (PSI Communications Coordinator), [email protected], +33 450 40 1152.