Belgium: Conciliation failed at Sagrex-Heidelbergcement
150 workers have been on strike at the Sagrex-Heidelbergcement company in Belgium amidst a 31 August conciliation that has failed to deliver as expected. The said meeting was attended by the employers' federation of the extractive industry (Fediex) and Sagrex, union representatives from BWI affiliates ACV-BiE and FGTB, as well as the Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue.
As a result, BWI affiliates have decided to continue with their action, and are even thinking of expanding it to other sectors across the country.
Workers justified their action by pointing to the extraordinary rise in the cost of fuel, which strongly affected their travel expenses to workplaces. Workers are demanding a negotiated gesture for one year for their travel expenses which was already accepted by the company at Lhoist in May and at Carmeuse in July. Not satisfied with the response provided by the company's management, they filed a strike notice at the beginning of July 2022.
According to the information received from our affiliates, while delegates were negotiating, some members of the management went to the striking workers on an individual basis threatening them that there will be a post-strike period.
Sagrex's CEO considered that the company already allocated many benefits.
In the past 4 years, workers have been complaining about the director of the company. By March 2022, the results of a psychosocial risk analysis confirmed the bad atmosphere and the demotivation of some workers. Three (3) working groups were set up composed of volunteer workers to bring solutions for improvements.
ACV-CSC delegate Pierre Etienne reported to the management that some workers were not being able to participate because the timing didn’t correspond with their working hours and therefore asked to swap some workers in the groups. The management considered that Etienne went beyond his role even as he expressed his opinion there was a clear dysfunction in the company’s hierarchical line.
Sagrex is a leader in the Belgian and Dutch markets. It employs nearly 400 people at its 20 sites, including 18 in Belgium and 2 in the Netherlands. The company produces aggregates used in the construction industry, mainly as a raw material for concrete.