BWI calls for reinstatement of LafargeHolcim workers in Uganda

BWI called for the reinstatement of 28 workers at the Hima Cement Limited, a LafargeHolcim subsidiary in Uganda, after their jobs were deemed redundant as a result of the company's alleged increased automation, digitalisation and cost of production.  

The dismissed workers, 17 of whom are members of the BWI-affiliated Uganda Building, Construction, Civil Engineering, Cement and Allied Workers Union (UBCCECAWU), accused the company of union-busting. They said that the dismissals were enforced after the union took legal action against Hima Cement Ltd. for flagrant violation of their freedom of association and right to collective bargaining. 

Chief shop steward Joel Ondoma, who is one of the workers dismissed, said that the company is harassing union members. “While the union is trying to resolve industrial disputes in the legal manner, the management has resorted to repressive tactics against union members, including shop stewards,” he said.  

UBCCECAWU General Secretary Oloka Mesilamu said that the company intends to destroy the union by terminating elected union representatives and replacing permanent workers with subcontracted labourers, who are willing to tolerate bad working conditions. 

Mesilamu, who is also Vice President of the BWI’s Regional Executive Committee, said that subcontracted and non-union members suffer from long working hours and lack of benefits such as overtime pay, sick, annual and maternity leaves. “This is absolutely unacceptable from the point of view of international labour core standards and even LafargeHolcim’s own ‘code of business conduct’,” he said. 

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson decried the company’s union-busting practices. He said that BWI will engage LafargeHolcim at the international level to put a stop to its Ugandan subsidiary's union-busting and exploitative labour outsourcing and subcontracting practices. 

“The harassment and dismissal of workers, especially trade union members in LafargeHolcim’s Ugandan subsidiary, must stop now. We demand the immediate reinstatement of the dismissed workers, including the trade unionists, and call on the company to commit to a constructive social dialogue with the union,” Yuson said.