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IMF and ICEM visit Umicore plants in South Africa

27 January, 2011IMF and ICEM visit the Umicore plants in Port Elisabeth, South Africa, January 24 to 26, as part of the implementation of the Umicore International Framework Agreement. Due to recent issues between local management and trade unions at the plants, the visit proved essential in delivering positive and constructive results for workers.

SOUTH AFRICA: As provided by the International Framework Agreement (IFA) signed by Belgian based Non-Ferrous metal group Unicore with the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) and International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) in 2007, IMF and ICEM held  an annual Umicore plant visit in South Africa this year.

Considering recent issues between local management and trade unions in the Port Elisabeth plants, the visit by the IMF and ICEM representatives resulted in a positive and constructive evaluation and has assisted workers in resolving some outstanding issues.

After visits to China in 2009 and Brazil in 2010, Umicore South Africa hosted the visit this year. Participants included Luc Triangle representing the IMF from ACV-CSC METEA Belgium, Kemal Özkan from ICEM, Peter Kamm, Chairman of the European Works Council of Umicore, and local trade unions, the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU), and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). From Umicore Ignace De Ruijter, Senior Vice President HR, Guy Ethier, Senior Vice President EHS and Mark Dolfyn, Director HR Development participated in the visit.

The mission resulted in a number of concrete results. The mission concluded that local communication on a number of issues, including recruitment procedure, structure of employment, integration of both plants, and training and education, should be further advanced and would benefit from greater engagement by both parties. By doing this, the results are in line with the objectives of the IFA to create mutually beneficial relations an dialogie between all the partners.

The IMF and ICEM representatives were impressed by the excellent work of the local trade unions CEPPWAWU and NUMSA and also recognized that local and corporate management played a crucial part in creating a basis for better social dialogue within the company for the future. This visit will be evaluated in April 2011 at the next IFA Monitoring Committee with management. The GUF's are ready to renew the IFA in September 2011.

The local and international trade union delegation also visited a social project financed by the local company called 'UMICARE'. The programme, while small, enables the children involved with the extremely valuable opportunity to go to school and improve their chances for a better life.