22 March, 202226 delegates from IndustriALL affiliates International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Steelworkers and Unifor met online on 10 March.
Two labour conflicts were discussed at the meeting. A group of 150 members of Unifor local at Joliet Ash Grove (owned by CRH), Quebec, Canada, have been locked out since May last year. And as the employer prepares to shut down two out of four kilns, dozens of members are at risk of losing their jobs.
330 truck drivers in Seattle, US, went on strike in November last year when a group of employers, including multinationals HeidelbergCement and Taiheiyo cement and two local cement producers, refused to bargain in good faith. Since then, a big part of US$23 billion Seattle construction business has been on a standstill.
A few days after the network meeting, on 14 March, more than 40 ready-mix concrete drivers and support staff at Cadman’s ready-mix concrete facility on East Marginal Way and Salmon Bay’s ready-mix concrete facility in Ballard agreed, as a good-faith gesture, to return to work. However, Cadman (owned by HeidelbergCement) has refused to return the mixer drivers in a timely manner or provide them with a return date. So continued support for the Teamsters on strike is still important.
The meeting adopted a solidarity statement with the Teamsters on strike in Seattle. A similar solidarity statement will be prepared for Canadian and US colleagues at Ash Grove Joliette.
The human and economic consequences of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine reverberate beyond the region. Eight out of 12 cement in Ukraine are owned by multinational cement companies including Irish CRH, Italian Buzzi Unicem and Russian Eurocement. CRH has already suspended production and declared assistance to employees and their families to escape the conflict. The company has also stopped all operations in Russia. Buzzi Unicem announced the deployment of a contingency plan in order to guarantee the safety of its employees and their families in Ukraine. So far there is no information about Eurocement's operations and employees in Ukraine.
Delegates discussed industry transformations on the global and regional levels. The cement industry is under pressure to neutralize its carbon emissions by 2050 in order to achieve the UN sustainable development goal on combatting climate change and its impacts on the industry. In order to make the union voice heard in this process, IndustriALL is initiating work in line with the Just Transition declaration adopted at COP26 in Glasgow last year.
Alexander Ivanou, director of materials industries, says:
“Our network continues to build strong solidarity, and both Teamsters and Unifor can count on us. We raise our voice against the war in Ukraine and express full solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Those who can contribute, please follow this link.
“Our networks will apply more efforts on Just Transition in the cement sector, which is extremely timey now.”