Faber-Castell Global Trade Union Network lives solidarity (Solidarität leben)
The Faber-Castell Global Union Network expresses its international solidarity to the struggle for the rights of the retrenched union members at Faber-Castell in Peru and the demands of the F-C Goa Union in India, for higher wages and better working conditions for all workers regardless of their employment status.
The network held its third meeting (online) on 18 June. 24 participants from eight countries and nine Faber-Castell plant units were present at the meeting which was coordinated by BWI and IG Metall.
The participants exchanged views on the social and economic impact of COVID-19 to workers, and provided updates on the collective bargaining negotiations and occupational health and safety situation at Faber-Castell. Long-hour work shifts, low wages and the growing number of subcontracted workers in India were also intensely discussed. The role that trade unions must play to confront job downsizing was at the centre of the exchanges on experiences and best practices.
For its part, IG Metall briefed everyone on the successful negotiations, supported by industrial actions, on the branch level tariff agreement (CBA) applicable to Faber-Castell in Germany, which included a corona premium, monthly wage increase and other beneficial provisions. IG Metall said that the gains won prove that unions can secure victories for their members even amidst the pandemic. The union representatives emphasised the importance of organising and representing subcontractor’s workers, including migrant workers in the company’s operations.
“Our global union network meeting in 2019 motivated us to engage in negotiations with Faber-Castell’s plant management in San Carlos, Brazil. This resulted in the permanent employment of 250 subcontracted workers in 2021. The management realised that resorting to labour subcontracting is more taxing administratively and less productive compared to a direct hiring policy. This is a great achievement for both the workers and the company”, said Flavio Morais of STI Quimicos de São Carlos in Brazil.
The social dialogues in Faber-Castell Peru and India were also assessed in the meeting. The trade unionists pointed to the International Framework Agreement (Social Charta) that the company signed with BWI and IG Metall in 2000, which they said is regularly used as a tool in social dialogue and negotiations. The participants deemed that special attention must be given to the company’s compliance to the agreement. They also identified job security, workers’ benefits and occupational health and safety (PPEs) as key areas for further engagement with the management.
According to the SUTFACAP Union in Peru, 206 workers, mostly trade union members, were dismissed last July 2020. “Our union protested the company’s decision to dismiss the said workers as this would put them and their families in an extremely difficult financial situation. The struggle for the rentrenched workers continues.“ says Celso Arce Blanco of SUTFACAP.
To follow up on the situation at Faber-Castell in Peru, representatives of the SUTFACAP were invited to join the IG Metall West Middle Franconia Delegates Assembly held on 21 June in Ansbach, Germany. In the said assembly, the SUTFACAP union reported on the latest situation faced by the retrenched workers. Hearing the story, IG Metall delegates and union activists launched a solidarity action and collected 1’700 Euro to support the workers in need.
“We are grateful for the solidarity and support extended by the IG Metall and the network to us. This will certainly go a long way in helping us purchase essential food commodities which we distributed to our affected members,” Blanco said.
“The sharing of experiences and best practices has not only enriched our knowledge about strategies to defend workers’ rights, it has also taken our solidarity efforts to new heights, showing that we are there for each other when necessary,” said Klaus-Dieter “KD” Winnerlein, Regional Chairperson of IG Metall in West-Middle-Franconia.