The BWI affiliates from Africa and Middle East region representing and organizing workers in the cement industry met in Abuja, Nigeria from 19-20 August to launch the Africa Regional Cement Network. The Network was the outcome of the Conference on Cement Industry in Africa and Middle East, where more than seventy-five trade unionists from eighteen countries participated.
The main objective of the African Cement Network is to promote decent work in the cement industry by sharing and exchanging information and experiences in areas of organizing, promoting safety and health, addressing subcontracting and precarious forms of work, and ensuring better working conditions. The Network is also to foster solidarity amongst the members in national and regional campaign targeting the cement industry.
Antoun Antoun, President of GSTU of Lebanon, who was elected Chair of the Network emphasized the important role the Network will play in supporting campaigns against the bad behviours of multinational companies. He stated, “ Our main target will be the top players in the Cement industry in Africa and MENA such as LafargeHolcim, HeidelbergCement and Dangote Cement, as they have a history of anti-union practices in many countries in the region including Nigeria,” He said.
The BWI Regional Representative, Crecentia Mofokeng observed that only two unions were able to organise Dangote; TUICO in Tanzania and small percentage with EIFCWMCTU in Ethiopia. She stated, “We need to launch an aggressive organizing campaign through the established network targeting Dangote to defend the rights of workers working at Dangote everywhere in Africa and the Middle East.”
The African Cement Network developed an action plan including campaigns and trainings to be implemented from September 2019 to the BWI Global Cement Conference that is scheduled to be held in Cairo, Egypt in 2020.