21 February, 2020After an eight-year struggle, Sitraternium signed an collective agreement with Ternium Guatemala on 29 January.
Workers have faced anti-union behaviour from the steel producer since the union was founded in 2012. In response, they launched a campaign to protect their rights, supported by IndustriALL Global Union and other organizations.
The agreement signed last month is a huge victory for Sitraternium, part of IndustriALL Global Union’s Guatemalan affiliate Festras.
"Sitraternium was founded eight years ago and we have finally signed our first collective employment agreement with Ternium. Now we will have to ensure compliance with the agreement,”
says Sitraternium's general secretary Walter Rodriguez.
“On behalf of Sitraternium, I want to thank everyone who support us, including IndustriALL, its Tenaris – Ternium workers’ world council, Argentinian union UOM, Steelworkers of Canada, national unions, Festras, our colleagues, friends and legal counsel. Our unity is our fighting force."
Following the meeting of IndustriALL’s Tenaris – Ternium workers’ world council in 2017, the union decided to take the fight to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). IndustriALL lodged a complaint against Ternium with the OECD National Contact Point (NCP) for refusing to recognize and negotiate with the trade union at its plants in Guatemala.
In 2018, Ternium representatives in Luxemburg told the NCP they would negotiate a collective employment agreement with Sitraternium. The first meeting between Ternium and Sitraternium representatives was held in March same year, but shortly afterwards the company suspended the talks.
The process of collective bargaining began in 2019. Finally, on 29 January this year the first agreement was signed, and the following day the documents were submitted to the Labour Ministry for certification.
Festras general secretary David Morales, says:
"We are very pleased to have reached an agreement. There is still very little collective bargaining in this sector in Guatemala, so this is an important agreement. We know it won’t resolve everything, but we have laid the foundations for further success in coming negotiations."
IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, says:
"We congratulate our colleagues at Sitraternium for their determination and dedication which has led to this historic outcome. Global solidarity and international mechanisms work; together we will continue our fight and achieve victory.”