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Siemens GFA put to early test in the US

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28 August, 2012The new Global Framework Agreement (GFA) with electronics multinational Siemens is being put to the test in a USW organizing drive at a plant in Maryland, USA. Join the LabourStart campaign to support workers threatened by company-hired union busters ahead of a 6 September vote.

Siemens became the 40th multinational corporation to sign a GFA with IndustriALL Global Union on 25 July 2012, together with the company’s General Works Council and IG Metall of Germany. Through the joint agreement, German-based Siemens commits to uphold fundamental rights of all its workers throughout the world.

At the same time that global management were making these commitments, local management in Maryland, USA hired a pair of notorious union-busting specialists to aggressively combat a drive by the United Steelworkers (USW) to organize the non-union North East plant of the company. Director of Operations for Siemens, Joe Didwall breached a number of the commitments made in the GFA, making his position perfectly clear in writing to one of his employees, “We must tell you that we do not believe that bringing a third party union into our workplace is in your best interests for many reasons. Nor is it in the best interests of the company or our customers”.

The company’s hired union busters Ken Cannon and Joe Brock, together with management, have threatened workers against joining the union, amounting to clear interference and restriction of the employees’ right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Ken Cannon has worked with Siemens before and proudly describes himself as having “40 years’ experience supporting managements’ efforts to remain union free”.

The spirit and actions of the Siemens management at the North East plant totally breach the commitments made in the Global Framework Agreement and IndustriALL calls for swift intervention from the company. In a letter to Siemens President and CEO Peter Löscher, IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina stated:

“I call on you to immediately terminate the company’s relationship with union-busters Ken Cannon and Joe Brock, and cease the anti-union activities referenced above. Senior management should call a meeting of all North East employees with USW representatives present, provide them with a copy of the GFA, and inform them that the company will take a neutral position, cease all anti-union activities, take no reprisals against employees on the basis of their union advocacy, and afford the USW reasonable access to the plant to communicate with employees.”

The workplace election will be conducted on 6 September. Let us rally support behind our US affiliate, send a message of solidarity and support to the Siemens workers at North East through the USW-LabourStart campaign.