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IndustriALL proposes ethical partnership with TATA Steel

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19 September, 2012IndustriALL Global Union’s network in Tata Steel will seek to develop an ethical partnership with company management at a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand later this month.

Unions that make up the TATA Steel network are developing an action plan aimed at organizing new members, building stronger unions and improving communications with management.

Tata Steel has manufacturing operations in 27 countries with the largest located in Jameshedpur, Jharkland, India. The company has won many awards such as World’s Best Steel Producer by World Steel Dynamics, and recognition by Forbes as the world’s most ethical company.  The unions that form the Tata Steel network believe that in making the proposal they can play a proactive role in ensuring that as the company expands it avoids conflict and retains its ethical values.

The union proposal comes at a time when the network plans to improve coordination among unions at the global level. This improved coordination includes monitoring and improving the company’s implementation of its corporate social responsibility policies. It’s hoped that by working together with the management on issues such as freedom of association, problems can be resolved early.  The union network plans to implement an organizing and growth strategy across Asia.

If accepted by management the partnership would be the first of its kind and ensure a continuation of the philosophy that Tata Steel has won many awards for. A consultation of unions carried out by IndustriALL showed overwhelming support for the proposal.

Rob Johnston, Executive Director of IndustriALL Global Union, explained, “Tata Steel has a unique reputation as one of the world’s leading ethical companies. How it reacts to this offer will demonstrate how far its ethical approach extends. In our experience when it comes to organizing and growth many companies that talk a good game fail to live up to expectations. We hope that this will not be the case with TATA Steel.”

The union network has already invited senior management to attend to provide an overview of the company’s strategy for the next 5 years and to discuss the union’s proposals in Bangkok. In addition the network will also discuss plans to use social media forums to increase communications among unions in the company’s unionized operations.

Historically the company has had good relations with its unions in most parts of the world. In India where the company began its operations in 1907 it has had a partnership agreement with the TATA Workers’ Union for over a hundred years. Recently as the company has expanded its global footprint, questions have been raised as to whether the company can retain this approach through all its operations and very different cultures.