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Saint-Gobain trade union network sets a milestone for global solidarity

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25 November, 2016From 23-24 November 2016, more than 30 workers’ representatives and trade union officials of Saint-Gobain, met in Paris, France. Participants from three continents discussed work related issues in the industrial group, including the necessity for an improved social dialogue at the corporate level at Saint-Gobain. 

Participants from France, Belgium, Poland, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Colombia, Thailand, Indonesia and India, discussed their situation in Saint-Gobain and the future of this multi-sectoral multinational company. Saint-Gobain has become far more than a glass producer. Today, the company claims to re-invent housing and building. The 351-year-old company employs almost 170,000 direct and another 290,000 indirect workers all over the world. The latter are one of the major concerns of trade union representatives and works councils since these workers are quite often working under precarious conditions.

Precarious work (especially at contractors) and health and safety are major issues at Saint-Gobain and were discussed in detail by the network on day one of the meeting. Participants also heard that, contrary to corporate management’s declarations about core values of commitment, mobility and diversity, these values are under threat, namely in India, Brazil, Thailand, Colombia and other countries.

On the second day, union representatives used the opportunity to share their concerns with corporate management representative Régis Blugeon, head of social dialogue (directeur des affaires sociales) at Saint-Gobain. They addressed pressing issues in Thailand, Colombia and India, and Mr Blugeon promised to check and follow-up.

It is second time that the Saint-Gobain global trade union network, which was founded in 2015, has met and plans were made to meet again in 2017. Blugeon confirmed that he would attend in order to respond questions. In the meantime, the network will also continue its work. The steering committee was confirmed and a respective document about the functioning and governing of the network adopted unanimously. Dominique Bousquenaud, network coordinator and general secretary of IndustriALL affiliate CFDT FCE, and Matthias Hartwich as IndustriALL’s representative, jointly signed the governing document.

Matthias Hartwich, who is IndustriALL director for materials industries and mechanical engineering, said:

“Saint-Gobain’s trade union network set a milestone here in Paris. Now the work begins. The steering committee has set an agenda for the next twelve months, so we will start work right away. Saint-Gobain’s direct and also indirect workers can count on the network’s solidarity and support. We will be there when needed - that’s a promise.”