LafargeHolcim retrenches workers then rewards shareholders with massive dividends
In its 4 May Annual General Meeting, LafargeHolcim, which has since rebranded itself as Holcim Ltd., rewarded its shareholders with CHf 1.2 billion worth of dividends despite a 13 percent decline in sales due to the pandemic.
The Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), which has trade union affiliates in many of Holcim’s cement plants worldwide, said that the cement giant was able to do this by embarking on a massive labour outsourcing scheme that saw the retrenchment of many regular workers and replacement with contractual employees, many of whom work under unfair labour conditions and also face threats of dismissal.
“The company is outsourcing as much as it can,” BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said. “Holcim is replacing more and more permanent workers with contract employees.
According to reports, the cement giant has offloaded plants in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Singapore. As a result, it was able to reduce its workforce from 100,000 to 70,000 in just five years.
In Davao, Philippines, contractual workers receive wages two-thirds lower than permanent employees despite working seven days a week for this minimum wage. They also do not enjoy annual leaves or benefits and have to pay for their own their personal protective equipment (PPE).
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progesibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) said that Holicm’s plant in Davao has retrenched 141 contract workers. The company later reinstated 30 of those dismissed, but excluded union members.
“This is deliberate. Holcim is getting rid of workers who are active in the trade unions,” SENTRO leader Michael Ibanez said. He said that after the mass dismissals, workers went on strike. The company responded by harassing them with the use of the police force.
BWI said that Davao is not an isolated incident. “They are systematically exploiting contract workers and taking action against trade unionists. The company is abusing its workers and denying any duty of care to them. This must stop,” Yuson said.
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