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Unions urge LafargeHolcim: "No feast in a time of plague!"

12 May, 2020The international and European unions representing LafargeHolcim workers around the world urged the company’s shareholders, ahead of the annual general meeting (AGM), “to prioritize the protection of employment, income and the health and safety of all those who work for them worldwide” in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, leading building materials group LafargeHolcim announced that this year its AGM would not take place, and allowed votes only via an independent proxy. Due to the impossibility of addressing shareholders face to face, IndustriALL Global Union, together with its sister organizations the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) appealed to the shareholders via a statement

The three organizations criticized the exorbitant dividends offered to LafargeHolcim shareholders while their workers are struggling to survive.

In their joint statement, IndustriALL, BWI and EFBWW, insisted that the company must ensure that “collective bargaining agreements, national laws and recommendations of the public authorities are fully respected and properly implemented. This applies especially to occupational safety and health measures, particularly the measures against Covid-19, the organization of working hours and entitlement to wages or wage compensation.”

Despite this appeal from the unions, the board of directors at LafargeHolcim received a green light from their shareholders, who voted in favour of the exorbitant dividends of 2 CHF per share. LafargeHolcim will pay out:

  • 1,288 million CHF in dividends, while at the same time receiving financial support from public authorities.
  • 5,400,000 CHF compensation for members of the Board of Directors
  • 42,500,000 CHF compensation for the members of the Executive Committee.

In their statement, IndustriALL, BWI and EFBWW strongly criticized this company proposal and informed shareholders that “LafargeHolcim workers who need to stay at home are being obliged to use up all their available annual leave entitlement for 2020 and for 2021 in order to continue receiving their basic wage. Contractors’ employees are receiving no support at all from LafargeHolcim.”  

Further, the three organizations demanded that LafargeHolcim put in place health and safety measures aimed to combat Covid-19, as well as respect fundamental workers’ rights.

It was revealed today that unfortunately LafargeHolcim shareholders turned a deaf ear to the unions’ demands and supported all the proposals of the board of directors.

Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL said,

“Permanent and contract workers at LafargeHolcim operations are facing extraordinary challenges during this Covid-19 pandemic. It is shocking to see that LafargeHolcim is paying exorbitant dividends, which are not even subject to taxes.”

“It is completely unacceptable that 37 LafargeHolcim workers lost their lives in 2019 alone. We strongly urge LafargeHolcim to stop this feast in a time of plague and invest more in social dialogue, protect the health and safety of all the employees and guarantee their incomes in difficult economic situation.” 

“We repeat our slogan: Respect workers’ rights – put people before profits!”