7 April, 2008
The ICEM Global Framework Agreement with French specialty chemicals producer Rhodia took a major forward step with inclusion of specific neutrality language. The two parties formally signed the renewal agreement in Paris on 25 March.
The Global Agreement, originally signed on 31 January 2005, also includes stronger language regarding responsible behaviour by the company’s suppliers and subcontractors, as well as integration of the agreement with the “Rhodia Way,” a set of principles aimed at continuous progress on social and environmental responsibility.
ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda and Rhodia CEO Jean-Pierre Clamadieu at the 25 March signing
The renewal agreement is supported by ICEM French affiliates Fedechemie CGT-FO and Federation Chimie Energie CFDT. It follows a favourable assessment of the terms of the agreement carried out over that past two years that included a joint trip to China last fall to observe work conditions at Rhodia’s operations there.
“We feel we have taken the agreement with Rhodia to a new level,” said ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda. “The commitment for trust and earnest dialogue is genuine.”
The agreement did contain, and still does, adherence to ILO Core Labour Conventions 87 and 98 regarding freedom of association, and the right of representation and collective bargaining, but it now goes further. Under a section entitled Labour-Management Dialogue, a clause now states: “Rhodia respects the right of employees to be collectively organised and shall remain strictly neutral concerning their choices in this matter.”
Further to that section, “Rhodia pledges to not practice any discrimination due to unionisation either when hiring or when managing employees’ careers.”
Rhodia also pledges to take a hands-on approach in assuring that suppliers and subcontractors adhere to the framework of the Global Agreement, as well as all laws and human rights standards.
In addition, the renewal agreement sets formal ICEM involvement in tracking “Rhodia Way” performance; it creates a joint safety issues discussion group; allows the agreement’s application to be audited by an outside expert jointly chosen by the two parties; and, following the successful Chinese mission, sets up an annual mission to a country to assess terms of the accord. The next such visit will be to Brazil.
The English and French versions of the agreement can be found here.
Rhodia, which generated sales of €5.1 billion in 2007, supplies chemicals for the automotive, tyre, electronics, perfume, and health, beauty, and home care markets. It employs 15,500 workers worldwide.