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ICEM Signs Global Framework Agreement with Rhodia

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15 August, 2005ICEM News release No. 04/2005

A Global Framework Agreement signed yesterday, 31 January, with Paris-based specialty chemicals producer Rhodia becomes the eleventh such agreement for the ICEM. The Rhodia Global Agreement marks the second in as many weeks with a French multinational by the 20-million-member Global Union Federation (GUF).

Signing the Global Framework Agreement:
ICEM's Fred Higgs and Rhodia CEO, Jean-Pierre Clamadieu

The Rhodia agreement, setting forth the company’s commitment to social responsibility and dialogue with ICEM and respective trade unions in countries where the company does business, was negotiated and signed with the ICEM and supported by French affiliates Fedechemie CGT-FO and Federation Chimie Energie CFDT.

“This is our first Global Agreement in the important chemicals sector,” stated ICEM General Secretary Fred Higgs. “We are quite satisfied with the language of the agreement, but of equal importance to the text is the company’s commitment to the spirit and intent behind the agreement. We are confident our affiliates around the world will fully participate in its implementation.”

“This agreement is rooted in Rhodia’s culture of dialogue with its employees and their representatives,” said Rhodia CEO, Jean-Pierre Clamadieu. “It reflects Rhodia’s commitment to sustainable development and to respecting mandatory social standards in all sites throughout the world.”

The preamble of the Rhodia Global Agreement states: “Rhodia voluntarily undertakes this commitment, which supplements its compliance with legal and regulatory obligations in every country in which it operates … Both signatories to this agreement recognize that the internationally recognized standards and principles contained within this Agreement will be applied at all Rhodia operations across the world, regardless of whether they are required by national law or regulations.”

The agreement affirms a commitment by Rhodia to uphold all Fundamental ILO Core Conventions on Trade Union and workers’ rights and on the ten principles list in the UN’s Global Compact initiative.

Rhodia will recognize and comply with ILO Core Conventions 87 and 98 (Freedom of Association/Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively); Core Conventions 29 and 105 (Abolition of Forced and Compulsory Labour); Core Convention 138 (Commitment against Use of Child Labour); Core Conventions 100 and 111 (Equal Remuneration and Fight Against Employment/Occupational Discrimination); and Convention 156 (Commitment to Ensure Rights and Equality of Opportunity for Employees of both Genders with Family Responsibilities.)

Regarding Health and Safety of Rhodia employees, the company commits “to ensure good working conditions and to manage risk on a daily basis” and to develop “exacting internal requirements and making their application a major obligation.” Rhodia also commits to continually improve safety performance and to regularly assess such practices for both employees and subcontractors.

The agreement also cites a pledge from Rhodia that investment projects shall not compromise the health and safety of employees or nearby residents. The company commits to undertake both preventive and precautionary measures regarding environmental protection, and places a priority with the ICEM on enhancing employee awareness and expertise in the area of environmental protection.

Language in the 12-page agreement also addresses employee mobility leading to better opportunities within the firm, and training and development for employees to meet new occupations and new technologies.

The Global Agreement calls for “in-depth and balanced dialog between labor and management” through all appropriate forums. It also calls for an annual review of the agreement in which problems encountered with its application will be described in a written report that will also discuss solutions developed.

Rhodia employees 20,000 and has 113 production sites in Europe, North American, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. The ICEM, the predominant GUF in the worldwide chemicals sectors, has 408 affiliated trade unions in 125 countries.

Rhodia Global Agreement in English (pdf)

Rhodia Global Agreement in French (pdf)