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Holcim has to take responsibility for workers

9 October, 2013Holcim trade union network meets in Belgium and discusses joint strategies to answer Holcim’s attempt to generate 1.5 billion CHF (1.2 billion Euros) extra-profits on the back of their workers.

On 1 and 2 October 2013 upon invitation of the Belgian trade union ACV-CSC BIE, representatives of Holcim works councils and trade unionists from North America, Latin America, Asia, North Africa and Middle East, Europa and Asia, met in Ostend, Belgium to discuss the situation of the workers in Swiss based multinational, Holcim. Although the situation is very different from country to country, the ongoing restructurings in this group causes severe problems.

Several delegates stated that according to their experiences Holcim follows more and more a mere finance driven policy rather than an industrial logic. Shareholder value comes first, workers and their living and working conditions are less important for the company. That may make shareholders and banks happy, workers have no reason to be content with the so-called “leadership journey”, which was announced by CEO Bernard Fontana and promises to generate 1.5 billion CHF profit growth until end of 2014.  Workers on the other hand face harsh measures, mass redundancies, repeated restructurings, a lack of fair information and consultation and a growing pressure on living and working conditions.

“This is not the Holcim I started working for many years ago”, one of the delegates stated.

Repeatedly the company violates international standards and also their own values, as published in their Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) statement and on company’s website. Workers have the feeling that – contrary to company’s declarations – the health of the employees does not really matter. In addition the company tends to recur to outsourcing and subcontracting measures in a number of countries. Although the company again and again states that they want a fair treatment not only for their own but also subcontracted workers, this is not the case. This has to change. The Holcim trade union network will send a clear message to the management, demanding that workers’ rights have to be respected and that the company has to take responsibility for those who generate the profits that make shareholders and bankers happy – the workers.

At the end of the meeting the continuation of this network was agreed upon. Appointments were made for next two years.