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IG Metall commits to strengthen global agreements

15 June, 2015Some fifty union leaders and works council representatives of IndustriALL Global Union’s German affiliate IG Metall deeply discussed to make an evaluation over the existing global framework agreements (GFAs) that their union took the lead in negotiation and implementation.

During the meeting on 2-3 June 2015 at the union’s headquarters in Frankfurt, the participants of the particular workshop discussed their experiences and overall developments in the area of GFAs, including the forty-six GFAs signed by IndustriALL Global Union with multinationals, within which German-based companies make an important part. These agreements cover a wide range of sectors, from aerospace to mechanical engineering and refer to a number of issues including ILO core conventions, decent work, occupational health and safety, prohibition of child and forced labour and other.

IndustriALL Global Union’s new GFA Guidelines, adopted at the Executive committee meeting in Tunis in December 2014, was also discussed by the participants. The new guidelines also set a number of principles about negotiation and conclusion procedure of new GFAs in a transparent and open way. The participants analysed progression over the GFAs dating back to the late nineties and recently signed ones.

The participants also discussed the results of a survey about existing first and second generation GFAs that has been recently conducted together with scientists. This study proves that these agreements have more influence on MNC policies than thought. On the other hand it shows that there is still a long way to go. It was mentioned at the workshop that “It goes without any question that trade union and works council presence and their pressure are crucial to make a GFA a success story. If we do not follow up, then the agreement keeps dormant, as some bad examples of first generation agreements show”. The workshop also underlined importance of implementation and capacity building for national and local unions in the countries where multinational companies have operations worldwide.

Wolfgang Lemb, Executive Committee member of IG Metall, made it clear that the value of a functioning GFA should not be underestimated and at the same time it is crucial to embed it in a set of activities and trade union presence since a GFA is one piece of a complex toolbox.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said in his presentation:

For IndustriALL, GFA’s have to fulfil the standards we jointly defined in our GFA guidelines. They must contain at least the ILO Core labour standards as the freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the ban of child and forced labour and rules for non-discrimination. But we want more. With a GFA that is worth its title we want to make a change for the employees of the signing company and we have to integrate the supply chain and rules for monitoring the GFA with a participation of trade unions.”