6 June, 2002The IMF welcomes the "Declaration on Social Rights and Industrial Relationships at Volkswagen", the first international framework agreement for a worldwide player in the automotive industry.
GLOBAL: A "Declaration on Social Rights and Industrial Relationships at Volkswagen" was signed on June 6, in Bratislava, Slovakia, by Volkswagen management, the IMF and the Volkswagen Global Works' Council (GWC). The Declaration states that the principles of core labour standards - which are defined in a number of conventions of the International Labour Organisation - will be assured within Volkswagen, and is the outcome of negotiations between the company, the IMF and representatives of the VW GWC. It is the first framework agreement for a worldwide player in the automotive industry. Commenting on this highly important agreement, Marcello Malentacchi, IMF general secretary, stated that it was "another milestone in the relationship with Volkswagen and its policy to negotiate and sign voluntary agreements with trade unions," and he strongly urged other transnational companies in the metal industry "to follow the example of Volkswagen and get into negotiations with the IMF for a similar agreement." Volkswagen created a European Works' Council long before a directive was passed by the European Union. The company also established the GWC on a voluntary basis in 1998, followed by an official agreement in 1999. The VW Declaration deals with the freedom of association, collective bargaining, prohibition of child work and forced labour and non-discrimination, as well as remuneration, health and safety and working time. Company management will report to the GWC and its Steering Committee, and in cases of reported violations, one of the two will become active and discuss ways to solve the problems. The IMF's coordinator for the VW Global Works' Council is involved in this discussion and will bring in the position of the IMF and its affiliated unions. Robert Steiert, of the IMF head office, stated that the Declaration "will not have its largest impact at existing Volkswagen workplaces, where the provisions should already be at hand, but is most important for workers at plants to be built or taken over by Volkswagen, especially in lesser-developed countries." The full text of the agreement, which is applicable to the entire Volkswagen group - Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Rolls-Royce Bentley, Lamborghini, Auto-Europa - can be accessed on the associated links, in ten languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Slovakian). In December 2001, Italy's three national metalworkers' unions, representing also the IMF, signed a framework agreement with Merloni Elettrodomestici.