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HeidelbergCement network commits to fight back new challenges

13 October, 2020About 40 participants from unions affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union and Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) met online to discuss developments and challenges for employees of German building materials multinational HeidelbergCement.

Covid-19 has impacted the industry, and although the situation differs from region to region, sales are down on a global level. There has been some recovery since June, when governments eased out of lockdown.

Due to the shrinking market and economic crisis, participants expressed their concerns over the lack of investments, difficulties to bargain in tight markets, and subsequent layoffs and redundancies.

The network also discussed the company policies and targets in terms of reducing of CO2 emissions and digitalization.

Representatives from HeidelbergCement attended the meeting and presented the company’s policy on health and safety with a special focus on preventing Covid-19 in the workplace.

The union network agreed on an action plan to:

  • Address subcontracting and find ways to organize precarious workers
  • Closely study health and safety issues
  • Denounce workers’ rights’ violations while improving social dialogue at global and local levels
  • Increase involvement of female workers
  • Continue to develop the database of collective agreements and use it as support in collective bargaining
  • Consider the impact of environmental issues and Industry 4.0 on workers while considering innovative ways of organizing
  • Improve communication between meetings, including intensifying the work of steering committee
  • Ambet Yuson, BWI general secretary, said:

“Workers are worried about their health and safety and their future. It is encouraging that HeidelbergCement wants to ensure full union recognition, protection of health and safety and benefits negotiated in collective bargaining agreements and by law. We need and hope for a greater social dialogue at the global level and see this is as a good step in the right direction.”

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said:

“In the light of the unstable economic situation and imminent danger of a second wave of Covid-19, we demand that HeidelbergCement takes full responsibility for their workers. We believe that full respect of workers’ rights and safe working conditions is a must that should be unconditionally provided, both in the company and along its supply chain. There is only one way to address the issue, through the establishment of a global social dialogue.”

The meeting was organized with the support of German Friedrich Ebert Foundation.