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Base metal unions pledge to fight for workers’ rights and dignity

28 September, 2017Sixty trade union activists representing workers of base metals sector from twenty countries gathered at the IndustriALL Base Metals Steering Committee meeting in Paris, France on 26-27 September 2017.

During two days, the delegates discussed responses to such burning issues as unfair trade and steel production overcapacity, challenges of Industry 4.0 and digitization, as well as fundamentally important for the unions issues on how to build union power and strengthen global solidarity.

The meeting was a continuation of the action plan adopted in 2016 at the Global Base Metals Conference in Duisburg, Germany.

The question of global solidarity was pivotal for the meeting; the activists expressed their solidarity with Sitraternium, the union representing workers of steel making company Ternium in Guatemala. In response to the company’s failure to recognize and negotiate with the union IndustriALL Global Union has recently lodged an OECD complaint.

Also, during the meeting the delegates adopted a unified demand for a greater global union collaboration and coordination at the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal. The statement will be presented at the next meeting with global management in Burns Harbor, United States, at the beginning of October.

Participants also re-committed to support the Gerdau World Union Committee’s demand that Gerdau recognize unions at national and global levels, including by partnering with the Committee to improve Gerdau health and safety practices. Four workers have died in an incident at Gerdau’s Ouro Branco mill in August.

Sanjyot Vadhavkar, co-chair of IndustriALL Global Union Base metals sector, says:

“Our coordinated efforts will help us to combat unfair dumping and strengthen union participation in development of trade defence instruments and trade policies. We reiterated the need to continue organizing women, youth and precarious workers in order to build union power and jointly fight for justice, equality and dignity for all workers.”

Thomas Conway, co-chair of IndustriALL Global Union Base metals, sector says,

"The unions of the IndustriALL base metals section met in conference for the past two days and are as committed as ever to push their respective employers and governments to work together with the unions to take all necessary steps to deal with the matter of global overcapacity in steel, which is impacting us all. We are further pledged to confront our employers collectively where labour relations and safety and health conditions are poor and we will not tolerate workplaces where our members aren't safe at work or where the management is unconcerned about these matters."

Kemal Ozkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said 

“We are facing dramatic political changes taking place in the world: Brexit, climate change, rise of right and extreme right forces in Europe. This strongly affects base metals sector. But our struggle continues, we are fighting for an economic and political model based on social right and dignity in every corner of the world and need to be supported by strong trade unions.”

Photos from the meeting are available on Flickr. Some of the meeting discussions could be found on our Facebook channel @IndustriALLGlobalUnion.