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Holcim, Lafarge unions protest merger of companies without workers’ rights

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16 January, 2015Unions at cement giants Holcim and Lafarge are today launching a global campaign against the companies’ merger, which is moving forward without respect for workers’ rights.

The world’s two largest cement companies, the Swiss Holcim and French Lafarge, announced in 2014 that they will merge to form a company with 130,000 workers and a turnover of 35 billion Euro.

The companies have already announced the composition of the merged company’s executive committee and claim the merger will be complete in the first half of 2015 but they have failed to engage in real substantive consultations with unions about the impact of the merger on workers.

Workers and their trade unions today are taking action at Lafarge and Holcim plants around the world to demand the companies allow workers and their unions to have a voice in the merger process.

Actions include pickets and rallies in front of Holcim and Lafarge plants in Germany, Jordan, Lebanon, Philippines and Romania; press conferences in India, and Serbia; and distribution of flyers and discussion with workers at Holcim and Lafarge plants in Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Egypt, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Thailand and many other countries. In France, the French unions will conduct a picket and work stoppage from 10:00 to 11:00 at their worksites and at Lafarge Headquarters in Paris.

Today’s actions are being coordinated by IndustriALL Global Union, Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), and the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW).

“Tens of thousands of workers will likely be spun off or laid off as a result of this merger, but management still refuses to consult with unions,” said Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL. “This is unacceptable for companies that claim to be socially responsible. Today workers around the world are standing up and saying no merger without workers’ rights.”

“This is the first of many activities we are planning.  In a strong and unified voice we will continue the campaign until the management of Holcim and Lafarge recognize that they cannot ignore the voices of its most vital asset, the workers who have built the companies to its current financial success,” stated Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI.

“Even at European level, with all the legal requirements and obligations concerning information and consultation, we have to conclude that workers’ representatives so far have not been adequately informed and consulted during the merger process, and many times have had to rely on mass-media to get information. This is an unacceptable state of affairs which has to be remedied by a clear-cut commitment from the management to properly consult with workers’ representatives”, says Sam Hägglund, General Secretary of EFBWW.  

Union leaders from 22 countries representing workers at Lafarge and Holcim decided upon this day of action and subsequent actions in the campaign when they met last November in Belgium.

Press contacts:

Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL, +41 79 945 57 26
Genevieve Kalina, BWI, +41 22 827 3786
Sam Hägglund, EFBWW, +32 475 84 06 51

IndustriALL Global Union - represents 50 million workers in 143 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and is a force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world. For more information http://www.industriall-union.org/

BWI - The Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) is the global union federation for unions covering workers in the building, building materials, wood, forestry and related areas of work. The BWI has 335 national affiliates in 131 countries with a global membership of 12 million. For more information http://www.bwint.org/

EFBWW - The European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) is the European Industry Federation for the construction industry, the building materials industry, the wood and furniture industry and the forestry industry. The EFBWW has 76 affiliated unions in 34 countries and represents a total of 2,000,000 members. For more information http://www.efbww.org/