Jump to main content
IndustriALL logotype

Fighting for a safe and responsible steel industry

28 April, 2022Today, on International Workers' Memorial Day, IndustriALL base metals director Matthias Hartwich talks about why this day is important.

“The members of IndustriALL’s affiliated unions are the ones who make the steel. They are the ones who either live or die, who return in either good or bad health from their workplaces in the steel industry. If anything goes wrong, they pay with their health, or even with their lives. That is why we support every effort to improve working conditions and occupational health and safety measures.

“IndustriALL is a member of ResponsibleSteel as it is important to represent our affiliates in a growing organization aimed at producing steel in a responsible way. Within ResponsibleSteel, we, as a global trade union can give the men and women working in the industry a voice in the discussions on Responsible Steel’s standards and on what producing steel in a responsible manner means for workers and their unions around the world. Having this multi-stakeholder approach is crucial.

“A general understanding and respect for ILO Core Labour Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work are crucial in every steel and mining operation that seeks to be certified by ResponsibleSteel.

“Today, on International Workers' Memorial Day, we are remembering our colleagues who have died or have been left disabled in the steel sector. A core question is to make sure that the ILO conventions on health and safety are respected and reviewed during certification procedures. The conventions are:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Convention no. 155
  • Occupational Health Services Convention no. 161
  • Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention no. 187

“It is also crucial to adopt a general approach of Just Transition in the steel industry. We think that a changing steel industry needs the workers’ perspective when it comes to piloting through the upcoming changes in our important industry.

“A global standard for the steel industry can help to protect workers’ rights. Workers’ and unions’ rights must become indispensable when certifying steel. ResponsibleSteel can deliver and support this – especially if we train our certification bodies accordingly.

“Steel producers along the value chain must accept responsibility for fair treatment of their employees, including sub-contractors. The ILO conventions above are key. If all steel producer in the world applies these standards, we will make huge progress for the workers, but also for the industry as a whole.

“We demand what we call Just Transition. This simply means that no worker – regardless of blue or white collar, regardless of directly employed or subcontracted – is left behind in the transition process that the steel industry will go through.

“In other words: we want to see a climate-neutral steel industry that still offers clean, healthy and good workplaces, were men and women in the industry are proud to contribute to responsibly produced, climate-neutral steel. This is what sustainability is all about.”