On 4 May 2022, IndustriALL Global Union, the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW), representing over 62 million workers in different industrial sectors including Holcim workers, addressed Holcim shareholders.
Holcim has declared a zero-harm target for the workers creating the company wealth, but the reality paints a very different picture. As one of the biggest world cement producers holds its annual general meeting (AGM), unions are calling on Holcim to take responsibility for its workers, regardless of employment status, and recognize the global unions as legitimate partners.
Holcim’s growing use of sub-contractors undermines the company’s ambition of a zero-harm target. Workers in Holcim’s cement plants are continuously exposed to dangerous working conditions, excessive working hours, lack of personal protective equipment and unpaid leave.
Workers are still unsafe and die at work, with most of the victims being subcontractors or third-party workers. In Asia, more than 80 per cent of the workers remain without permanent contracts despite Holcim’s increasing production capacity. Holcim has cut its own and direct employment from 135.000 to less than 68.000 workers.
Workers’ rights are violated in Davao, Philippines where 141 workers were unfairly dismissed. Holcim must execute due diligence to ensure compliance with international core labour standards. Health and safety at Holcim continues to be violated. More than 200 workers have been killed since the merger in 2015. In January this year, three workers died and eight were critically injured in a fire at Hima Cement, a Holcim subsidiary in Uganda. The fire erupted during installation works on a diesel oil tank.
“It is Holcim’s directly employed and thousands of sub-contracted workers who create Holcim’s profits and future development – they deserve to be respected and included in the process of transformation,” said Tom Deleu, EFBWW General Secretary. “Results are up, and the board is proposing a ten per cent increase in dividend, which will be decided on in today’s AGM. This increase is made at the expense of workers and their families who contribute most to Holcim.”