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28 January, 2022Three workers died and eight were critically injured in a fire at the Hima cement plant, a subsidiary of Holcim, in Uganda on 15 January. The fire erupted during installation works on a diesel oil tank.
According to Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), the Hima plant has long been known for its hostile attitude towards workers. A BWI report on the January incident says that five years ago, more than 300 workers organized a trade union at the plant. In November 2020, Hima Cement retrenched 28 workers and half of them were union members. A year ago, half of the remaining members of the local trade union in the plant were dismissed.
Today, the plant operates with only 135 directly employed workers, the rest are subcontracted or third-party workers.
“IndustriALL expresses condolences to the families of the perished workers and joins BWI in calling on Hima Cement to engage in constructive dialogue with unions, stop union-busting and end the abuse of subcontracted and third-party workers,”
says IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie.
The tragedy in Uganda is yet another one at Holcim operations. IndustriALL is working closely with BWI in the cement industry, and combined reports on accidents in Holcim over the last years paint a very disturbing picture. All efforts to engage in a meaningful social dialogue with Holcim, which would contribute to safer operations, have so far been in vain.
In India in November 2021, one worker was killed and five other injured at the Marwar cement plant and another worker was seriously injured at the Maratha Cement Works. Both plants are owned by a Holcim subsidiary, Ambuja cement.
And in the month before, two fatalities occurred in the space of one week at two separate ACC cement plants in India. ACC is owned by Holcim.
Atle Høie concludes:
“Holcim’s abusive subcontracting policies depriving workers of their right to regular and secure jobs must stop. The company must resume bipartite safety committee meetings in all operations and strengthen the inspection and monitoring system.”