BWI urges cement companies at COP27 to respect labour rights in their net zero pledge

Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, 11 November 2022 - Despite claiming to be entering a new era in sustainability with their Net Zero Pledge and the launch of new products to build greener cities, cement companies have not shown any commitment to social sustainability in their roadmaps to Net Zero, including in the 2050 Net Zero Roadmap of the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), chaired by the building materials company Holcim.


To this day, the management of Holcim and Heidelberg Materials refuses to enter into negotiations for a Global Framework Agreement. This attitude allows these multinationals to violate workers' rights in total impunity when workers only demand protection of their jobs, safety and health at work and an end to extensive subcontracting.


BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said:


"Cement companies do not want a discussion on the social dimension in their road maps to Net Zero. However, Holcim and Heidelberg Materials should not forget that a just transition can only be achieved if decarbonising efforts go hand in hand with respect for internationally recognised core labour standards. For once, they should put lives before profits."


"It is unacceptable that the multinationals present at COP27 highlight CO2 emissions reduction as their priority to convey a good image while the most basic rights of collective bargaining and organizing in their direct operations and across their suppliers are not even respected, nor health and safety."  


"Multinationals have so much to gain with constructive social dialogue and the signing of a Global Framework Agreement with BWI - from reduction of health and safety risks to joint international inspections and transparent resolution of conflicts. Implementing just transition solutions can be done in a win-win spirit," Yuson concluded.


BWI urges cement companies to:

  • Engage in genuine social dialogue with trade unions in their commitments to a Just Transition;
  • Include a social dimension in its reducing CO2 emissions, climate change protection and digitalization policies, and engage trade unions to ensure workers' protections and a Just Transition for workers;
  • Respect and include the cement workers directly employed by the companies and dozens of thousands of sub-contracted workers who create their profits in the transformation process to a more sustainable, social and climate-friendly production of cement and concrete.

Additionally, BWI:

  • Demands a clear policy from Heidelberg Materials in view of the upcoming Human Rights Due Diligence legislation in Germany in 2023 and the European Union.
  • Is deeply concerned that the CEOs of Holcim and Heidelberg Materials have not openly committed to BWI's call to 1. actively involve trade unions, 2. deliver a Just Transition and 3. set up a genuine social dialogue with the Global Union Federations.