Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), IndustriALL Global Union and the Belgian trade union Centrale Générale / Fédération Générale des Travailleurs de Belgique (CG-FGTB) informed shareholders of the cement multinational LafargeHolcim at their annual general meeting held on 15 May 2019 in Switzerland about the misbehaviour of the company and demanded respect for the workers worldwide.
Prior to the meeting, union activists also distributed flyers in front of the venue in Dübendorf, Switzerland. Both flyers and speeches at the meeting contained the same important core message: unions demand more respect from the company towards their employees.
Christelle Pilette, Belgian representative in the European Works Council (EWC) and member of the Belgian union Centrale Générale / Fédération Générale des Travailleurs de Belgique (CG-FGTB) demanded that the company respect European directives on information and consultation with the EWC and employees before making decisions which have consequences for men and women working for LafargeHolcim. She insisted that LafargeHolcim must take energetic steps towards gender equality and against harassment at work. She also demanded respect for European legislation and directives in favour of employees.
Fiona Murie, BWI director for construction and health and safety, gave an insight into the bad health and safety situation at LafargeHolcim and criticized the progress the company claims in this field. The global unions are clear that company management should involve employees and their representatives and establish joint health and safety committees.
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director for materials industries, also addressed the shareholders:
“A cement company should sell cement, not cement plants! But having sold all their plants in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, LafargeHolcim is now no longer present in the entire Asia-Pacific region. The company has now shrunk from 135,000 employees at the time of the announcement of the merger to only 75,000 employees. Who is supposed to earn future profits for the company that also pay the dividends?”
In his address Hartwich reiterated the demands of IndustriALL and BWI and the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers:
1. Respect for generally accepted applicable health and safety laws and regulations for workers
2. Implementation of the minimum worldwide standards for workers as adopted by the United Nations and the OECD for Multinationals.
3. Respect for local communities, especially in developing countries, and for the environment.
4. Respect for shareholders who have been declared a "strategy for growth" whereas the company is selling asset after asset.
Hartwich concluded by informing the shareholders that the letter with these demands sent on 29 March 2019 remains as yet unanswered, which is another indicator for the non-respect of the company towards their employees and their unions.