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Strong exchange and cooperation among Asian chemical unions

15 September, 2016IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in the chemical industry in the Asia Pacific region maintain their unity through strong union networks.

This is part of the strategy to promote more effective international solidarity and cooperation among workers in multinational companies and their supply chains, as identified in the IndustriALL action plan.

Among others, one of the strongest exchanges was achieved through the regional and national activities at the world’s largest chemicals company: German-based BASF with an employment of around 110,000 in 400 plants on all continents. IndustriALL’s German affiliate IG BCE (Mining, Chemical and Energy Workers’ Union) has a strong presence at the company, including seats on the supervisory board.

A meeting was held in Singapore on 1-2 September 2016 for BASF unions and employee representatives in the Asia Pacific region, with the support of IndustriALL’s global project partner Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The meeting was attended by IndustriALL affiliates in Singapore, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam, representing workers of the 100 plants of the company in Asia Pacific.

IndustriALL also facilitates national level activities among BASF unions in India and Indonesia. Just before the regional meeting in Singapore, Indonesian unions representing employees at four plants of the company met in Tangerang on 29-30 August 2016 while Indian unions came together on 09-10 May 2016 in Mumbai.

The Indonesian union representatives shared their experience of achieving a master collective bargaining agreement with BASF across four sites in the country. Indonesian BASF union coordinator Edi Sulistyo told the meeting:

“As part of day-to-day work, we are facing similar problems in different countries. However our togetherness at regional and national gives a tool to successfully work together”.

In India, union representatives decided to form the new BASF India Workers’ Federation. The federation has organized six out of ten plants and reported an important success story. Since the last meeting in May, the new Indian federation has grown from factory level to a national union. Now the union federation is pursuing fair collective agreements, tackling precarious work and holding regular meetings and actions.

In Korea, two IndustriALL affiliates, FKCU and KCTF, organize all nine worksites. They organize through a national BASF council and push to standardize employment conditions at all sites.

The one BASF plant in Singapore is organized by the IndustriALL affiliated CIEU.

The Vietnamese BASF union reports good relations with the company and a number of advantages that Vietnamese workers enjoy, as well as positive systems on health and safety.

BASF in Thailand is not organized, and the regional network is ready to assist to unionization efforts in the country.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan congratulated the participants in all the three meetings:

“Transnational trade union networks and social dialogue with BASF has more than twenty-year history. In Latin America we have regional and national BASF networks in a number of countries and a regional network that is officially recognized by the company as a social partner. Now the Asia Pacific network has a strong base to reactivate the similar practice here in Asia Pacific.”