India: BWI expresses alarm over death of two workers in Holcim-owned plants
*Statement of BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson
BWI expresses its alarm and concern over the death of two contractual workers in two Holcim-owned cements plants in India. The deaths, which happened in the span of just one week, are deeply disturbing.
According to independent reports that BWI has received from the ground, last 8 October, a 49-year old loader named Mr. Subhash was found dead in a wagon-loading machine platform at the ACC Wadi Cement in Karnataka. He was a member of the Indian National Cement Workers’ Federation (INCWF-INTUC).
On 13 October, 39-year old cement truck driver Chandra Mani Pradhan was also found dead alongside his truck at the ACC Bargarh Cement in Orissa.
Both workers were third party contractors who were not employed directly by ACC. The details of their deaths have not been made clear. Worse, the investigations conducted on the said cases were not transparent.
As a global union actively promoting labour rights in various Holcim plants in different parts of the world, BWI joins our fellow trade unions in calling for a comprehensive, transparent and impartial investigation of the two incidents. The trade unions and families of the deceased have the right to know what really happened to establish levels of accountability, improve health and safety protocols and demand just compensation if it is proven that the deaths were work-related.
Lastly, BWI calls on Holcim to abandon its labour subcontracting policy and make concrete commitments to workers’ rights. The scheme deprives workers of the right to regular and secure jobs, and exposes them to unnecessary health and safety risks. The fact that the two dead workers were third-party contractors whose tragic fate was met by the lack of transparency on the part of the ACC plants, points to the poor working conditions of many subcontracted workers in Holcim.
We echo the statement of INCWF-INTUC General Secretary Deoraj Singh that ACC must strengthen its inspection system in all its cement plants, sit down with the unions and discuss all necessary information on safety and health, and for companies to stop engaging unskilled precarious workers and create a system of safety prevention.
BWI calls on Holcim to eliminate the abuse of subcontracted and third-party workers and exercise due diligence in the selection, management and compliance of contractors. And amidst a pandemic, BWI strongly urges Holcim to stop paying extravagant dividends and compensation to its management at the expense of workers’ benefits. Instead of ending in the pockets of its management, Holcim’s money could be better spent in ensuring the health and safety of its workers, and providing them decent wages and benefits.
In a letter jointly signed by BWI and IndustriALL’s General Secretaries, Holcim was challenged to take urgent and adequate measures to ensure the health and safety of workers in Indian cement plants.