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IndustriALL Global Union highlights struggles in materials industries

2 November, 2017IndustriALL Global Union prepared a special report analysing developments in the materials’ industries and describing union activities and campaigns over the last four years.

The report covers three industrial sectors: cement, glass and ceramics. This edition has been dedicated to the quadrennial conference on materials’ industries taking place on 2 and 3 November 2017 in Bremen, Germany.

The report gives an overview of the economic environment, and developments in the cement, glass and ceramics industries over the recent years since the last world materials industries conference in 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The publication focuses on the activities that have taken place in accordance with the Action Plan adopted in Bangkok, where the materials industries unions agreed to the following:

  • promote international solidarity and cooperation among workers in multinational companies and their supply/value added chains more effectively;
  • fight precarious work in all its forms;
  • support and reinforce organizing efforts and activities of affiliates in multinational companies and their supply chains;
  • integrate more women and young people into the work;
  • continue the work on multinational company (MNC) strategy, including global networks and global framework agreements;
  • promote a sustainable industrial policy in the materials industries sector.

However, the changes in the industries, including mega-mergers and divestments, also changed IndustriALL‘s approach since the global union has to be where the workers are.

Four years of struggle by unions for workers’ rights took place against the background of a fast changing landscape in the materials industry. During these years many MNCs have changed their profile; major players have changed their industrial footprint; and mergers and acquisitions have created new groups and challenges for trade unions, reads the report.

The report gives a comprehensive analysis of all three sectors underlining the communalities in all of them. The report gives special attention to the spread of precarious work in the materials industries where outsourcing is widely used and indications of the use of child labour in excavating are present.

Tough working conditions, insufficient accident prevention, environments that cause illness and the atrocious number of fatalities are all addressed in the special chapter on occupational health and safety in the materials industries.

A big part of the report is dedicated to the trade union networks and global framework agreements.

Finally, the report narrates the story of the campaigns and activities in the sector, paying special attention to the LafargeHolcim campaign, full of the struggle and dedication of union activists and workers all over the world.

The report concludes with the words:

“Wherever the multinationals go, whatever they do – we will be there. There will always be trade unionists ready to challenge them and struggle for the rights of our co-workers.”

The report is downloadable in PDF format here.