IG BAU holds Congress, to focus on youth and environment

The IG Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt (IG BAU), Germany's construction and building materials' union, held its Congress last 26 September in Kassel, Germany. 

Robert Feiger, current IG BAU President, was voted for another 4 years to lead the organisation. "In the future, we want to strengthen our profile as an environmental union because our industries are particularly affected by climate change. We will also deal intensively with digitalisation and its effects. Both are huge transformation tasks that we have to face. In addition, trade union power in the companies must continue to be expanded. After all, we have to make it clear to the workers again and again why it is worthwhile to be in a trade union,” he said. 

IG BAU’s Congress opened with the presentation of the Georg Leber Prize for Civil Courage. It is in honour of the memory of Georg Leber, former Chair of IG BAU. 

The "Initiative 19 February Hanau" (www.19feb-hanau.de) was awarded the prize and received EUR 10,000 for its outstanding efforts to immortalise the lives of those who fell to the right-wing murders of Tobias Rathjen on 19 February 2020 in Hanau. IG BAU said that the initiative ensured that the victims are not forgotten, their families are fully supported, and the narration and historical record of the horrific crime is not in any way distorted and falsified by vested interests. 

The Congress also passed a motion wherein IG BAU will focus in organising and training young people in vocational schools, universities and companies. To accomplish this task, there will be coordinators in the 12 regions where IG BAU is present at. 

"We have to strengthen our youth work, we have to become even more attractive for young people. Let's take advantage of the opportunity after the pandemic as more and more trainees want to become members of our union again,” said Nicole Simons, a member of IG BAU’s Federal Board.

"The youth brings fresh and progressive themes as well as new forms and ideas to carry out trade union work. In addition, those who learn early on to stand up for their rights will continue to work confidently and happily in their future professional lives. This also benefits companies and ultimately our society as a whole,” Simons added. 

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson greeted the delegates to IG BAU’s Congress and congratulated the union’s newly elected leaders. “BWI and IG BAU have always fought for trade union rights and have extended solidarity to trade unions fighting for recognition, better working conditions, and social justice. IG BAU has shown solidarity across the full spectrum of BWI activities, particularly on the fight for democracy in Myanmar and Ukraine. The firm and united support for the independence of Ukraine and democracy in Myanmar by the international community, democratic countries, the trade unions with the unwavering solidarity of IGBAU are reassuring signs despite difficult times. Thank you IGBAU of your strong and steady support,” he said. 

This was reaffirmed by Vasyl Andreyev, President of Ukraine’s Construction Union (PROFBUD). “My country, Ukraine, goes through the hardest time in the country’s history of independence. People suffer a lot, with a big part of our country destroyed. "Without international support, particularly from the likes of IG BAU, we would not be able to go endure this difficult situation. But we look to the future. It will be the construction workers who will rebuild our country. We have to prepare to equip our people with necessary skills and trainings. We would like to thank IG BAU for all the support provided to our union PROFBUD, which is helping us to look to the future with hope and confidence,” he said. 

Aisde from Feiger, IG BAU’s Congress has also elected Harald Schaum, Nicole Simons (active in BWI Statutory Dodies), Carsten Burckhardt and Ulrike Laux to its top leadership committee. 

IG BAU currently has more than 200,000 members spread across Germany's construction, agriculture and forestry, and building cleaning industries. 

Photos: IG BAU