Jump to main content
IndustriALL logotype

Rubber unions strengthen global networks

25 April, 2013Meeting in Hungarian capital Budapest on 22-24 April 2013, the IndustriALL Global Union World Conference for the Rubber Industry’s more than one hundred participants from some twenty countries committed to reinforce trade union workers at the dominant multinational companies of the sector.

“With this Conference, let us show that we are able to create concrete programs for workers’ solidarity against the negative effects of globalization in our sector,” were the opening remarks of Tamas Szekely, President of the Hungarian Chemical and Energy Workers’ Federation (VDSz) that hosted the Conference. The participants conducted discussions through company break-out meetings covering Bridgestone, Goodyear, Michelin, Continental and Pirelli to discuss particular situations in their respective countries.

The Conference overwhelmingly discussed challenges and union actions in the global rubber industry with a perspective over the future of auto and auto supplier sectors with tire and non-tire segments. The delegates explained developments in individual countries after the major crisis of 2008-2009. It was reported that even though crisis conditions have now passed, workers continue to suffer deteriorated working conditions. The European and North American representatives reported ongoing cases challenging unions and workers.

The reports from the break-out meetings formed a genuine base for union networks in the rubber industry. The participants appreciated a continuing of the global network activities with Japanese-based Bridgestone. The Secretary of European Works Council of French-based Michelin briefed participants about the efforts towards the creation of Michelin’s global network with a positive development that the company management already announced its readiness for a global framework agreement. Having concerns about the future of the company, participants coming from US-based Goodyear expressed their views of the importance of reinforcing union networking, as did the participants from Italian-based Pirelli. The delegates also shared experiences over the difficult situation at German-based Continental’s operations. The Conference underlined the importance of working with non-tire multinationals such as Hutchinson, Trelleborg, and Freudenberg.

Union organizing and the fight against precarious employment were also major agenda items discussed. More joint work with the Auto Section has been defined as a priority in union campaigns in the rubber industry within the supply chain strategy of IndustriALL Global Union. Even though precarious employment is not identified among the major problems in the tire industry in developed countries, it has been defined as a burning problem in developing countries, particularly in Asia. Examples from union recruitment and achievements through collective bargaining processes were exchanged with interest. The participants also debated health and safety conditions in the sector, and attached great attention to sustainability in the sector.

The Conference unanimously adopted a plan of action over the points raised. (For the action plan, please click here). The delegates re-elected Stan Johnson, International Secretary-Treasurer of USW, as Chairperson of IndustriALL Global Union’s Rubber Section while Linda McCulloch, National Secretary of Unite the Union has been elected as Vice-Chairperson. “This successful Conference has given us a clear road map for our future activities in building up genuine union power in the rubber industry” said Johnson at his final speech.