27 September, 2007
Umicore, a Belgian metals group specialising in metal technology, chemicals, and catalysts systems, today signed a Global Framework Agreement jointly with the International Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM) and the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) in Brussels.
The agreement, initiated by the Belgian union, Centrale Chrétienne du Métal de Belgique (CCMB), is for a 4-year period and contains language establishing a joint committee to review and monitor the agreement.
The framework agreement was co-signed by Belgian labour unions/federations Metaal/FGTB-ABVV, CGSLP-ACLVB, and CSC-ACV, the federation which affiliates CCMB.
“We are pleased to join with the IMF in establishing global standards with Umicore,” said ICEM Gen. Sec. Manfred Warda. “Umicore is a company that crosses into a number of sectors, including those both in ICEM and IMF’s range.”
“The significance of the agreement for us is this is our first joint agreement with another global union federation,” said IMF Gen. Sec. Marcello Malentacchi. “We are confident that both the IMF and ICEM, through our affiliates, will uphold the very best in social practices at Umicore.”
From left, Kemal Ozkan and Manfred Warda, ICEM; Thomas Leysen and Ursula Saint-Léger, Umicore; and Marcello Malentacchi, IMF
The agreement contains 6 articles: Human Rights, Working Conditions, Environment, Implementation of Agreement, Monitoring, and Validity of Agreement. Under Human Rights, Umicore pledges to adhere to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, as well as adherence to ILO core labour standards.
The latter specifically includes ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining, and other Conventions regarding child labour, forced labour, and non-discrimination and equal opportunities practices.
Under Working Conditions, the company agrees to ILO Convention 100 on fair and adequate remuneration, and pledges not to compromise on safety and health conditions in any workplace, as well as striving to post continuous improvements in all occupational health and safety performance. The Environmental principles include a 6-point plan centred on sustainable development issues.
In initiating the Global Agreement, the Belgian union CCMB steered Umicore into discussions with the ICEM and IMF. Those negotiations started in earnest in January 2007 and were included in June. The agreement marks the ICEM’s 13th such framework pact with a transnational company, while IMF has now ratified 17 such agreements.
Brussels-based Umicore employs 14,000 staff in 35 countries. It began in 1906 as a Belgian mining company in the Congo, and in 2001 changed its name from Union Miniére to Umicore. With significant divestment in the 1990s, the company since 2000 has focused on 4 businesses: advanced materials, precious metals services, precious metals products and catalysts, and zinc specialities and alloys.