Since 2016 BWI affiliates organizing workers in the cement industry in Southern Africa established a network to exchange information and share best practices on organizing in the cement sector.
The Cement Network met this year from 22 to 26 July 2019 in Mauritius, where four unions---CLAWUZ from Zimbabwe; CMWEU from Mauritius; NUM from South Africa; and SINTICIM from Mozambique---to discuss a number of issues including health and safety, workers' rights and gender equality.
It was clear that regardless of the country, the unions identified similar challenges including sub-contracting, low economic growth resulting in retrenchments, lack of training and knowledge for Shop Stewards about labour laws, absence of bargaining forums for some companies and low density of women employed in the cement sector.
According to Reeaz Chuttoo, CMWEU Executive Member, “Of all the cement companies in the industry, LafargeHolcim is using the worst form of precarious work by hiring contract workers. This is something that we have been aggressively fighting to change.”
In addition, the affiliates visited three cement companies. On 23 July, the trade union representatives visited Kolos Cement Limited, which until September 2015 was known as Holcim Mauritius Limited. The following day, the participants visited LafargeHolcim and Drymix Company. These site visits were important opportunities for trade union representatives to meet with company representatives to address important safety and health issues. One of the highlights of the visits was to confirm the implementation of the 25kg cement bag campaign by the companies as a result of the hard work of CMWEU.
The Cement Network meeting concluded with the unions agreeing to further cooperate amongst each other to ensure workers’ rights in the cement sector are respected. In addition, they called for collective efforts and action by the BWI and its affiliates in the region to ensure that decent work is achieved in the cement industry.