Etex Group: BWI and FOCRA presented a complaint to OECD

The BWI and the Ceramic Workers' Union of the Republic of Argentina (FOCRA) has filed a complaint against Etex Group under the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises of the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The complaint is based on the non-consultation and cooperation of Cerámica San Lorenzo from Argentina, a subsidiary of Etex Group with FOCRA through the process of dismissal of 180 ceramics workers.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are principles and standards for companies which are expected of been agreed and implemented by governments. They set out the standard of behaviour expected of enterprises throughout their global operations. This includes the expectation that enterprises consult and cooperate with trade unions when considering changes in their operations (restructuring) with significant employment effects. Since Etex is a Multinational Enterprise (MNE) which is headquartered in Belgium, one of 46 countries that have adhered the Guidelines, this company has to respect the Guidelines at any country where they have active projects.

The complaint argues that, according to Chapter V of the Guidelines, Cerámica San Lorenzo should have given notice of the restructuring “prior to the final decision being taken”. Similarly, the company should have consulted and cooperated with FOCRA on the decision to restructure in order to reduce to the maximum any adverse effects. These are failures not only of the prompt and responsible process of notification, but also the due diligence that all multinational corporations must respect.

The complaint is intended to ensure that the Etex Group assume its responsibilities related to the OECD Guidelines and identify the next steps in search of a solution to this conflict.