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Caterpillar network on a mission to build global solidarity

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21 October, 2022On 19 October, the Caterpillar global union network met online. The US giant has a history of anti-union, anti-worker, and anti-dialogue behaviour at its operations worldwide.

This anti-union and aggressive behaviour has now reached a new level.  There are conflicts in almost every country which is present in the network.

Trade union representatives and shop stewards, at every level, are disrespected, this contempt sets a negative standard in the industry. This year, the network saw deteriorations in Northern Ireland and Japan, with a total disrespect for workers‘ rights in Northern Ireland and consequently strikes.   

At the same time, the global union network is becoming more effective when organizing solidarity activities and campaigns, these efforts were seen this summer when the company mistreated their workers in Northern Ireland. IndustriALL Global Union, the UAW, and the European Works Council (EWC) conducted solidarity activities within days to support Unite, IndustriALL’s affiliate who is present on-site.

Above these specific instances, participants discussed collective bargaining and working conditions in different countries. The varying management attitudes were of particular interest.

Thomas Weber, administrative assistant of the UAW vice president Charles (Chuck) Browning and his team addressed the network about the latest developments in the USA, at a corporate level, but also about the situation in UAW. At this stage, the different locals in the USA prepare for entering into negotiations with Caterpillar in the spring of 2023. This information session was done on behalf of the network chair, Charles Browning, who is UAW’s Vice President.

Among several topics, the shortages of semiconductors, within the company, are a major concern for the representatives. If the supply cannot be improved, some facilities will go into short-time work and/or simply cannot deliver the ordered machinery. The delegates also discussed the possibility of an in-person meeting of the union network next year. If possible, this could be held in a new setting, along with other company networks from the same sector. IndustriALL and UAW will discuss this possibility and develop proposals.  

IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, Christine Olivier, addressed the network, introducing the latest discussions in IndustriALL regarding its position on social dialogue with Multinational Corporations.

"Caterpillar treats its employees with disrespect, and does not act in good faith, and this is evident at a majority of the international sites. We will fight back and the Caterpillar network will raise workers' voices and make sure corporate management will not overhear them,”

says Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director of mechanical engineering.