Global unions to Heidelberg: Engage in social dialogue


Last 22 October, trade union members of the key global union players have come up with an action plan to establish social dialogue with the Heidelberg Materials Group. The event was held on 18 and 19 October with affiliates from IndustriALL Global Union, Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI), and the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW).

BWI General Secretary Ambet  Yuson said that the recent BWI Congress expressed support to the Trade Union Networks in MNCs and urged Heidelberg Materials to finally engage in a constructive global dialogue that will recognize global unions as global partners.

“Multinational companies, talk the talk and they need to walk the walk. We will make sure that the shareholders of Heidelberg Materials hear the story of the workers and the number of unresolved issues if the management is not willing to listen to us. By signing an agreement with the BWI very recently, Argos Cement in Latin America has shown that it is possible and beneficial for both the company and the workers in the cement sector. We must take this campaign for social dialogue to the next level," 

Yuson said.

For IndustriALL assistant general secretary Christine Olivier “Network meetings provide a platform for sharing experiences, challenges, and brainstorming strategies.”

Olivier added that “the cement industry is a major player in our economies, and it is one of the major contributors to CO2 emissions and has a high energy consumption which requires large pressures to change production methods and equipment. Trade unions are not opposed to changes but they cannot be done at the expense of workers.  It is our duty to make sure that workers are not paying the price for changes in any industry.  Transformation must take place in a just and socially responsible manner.” 

"We condemn the war on Ukraine. The energy crisis puts everyone at risk. We are in favour of a Just Transition and guarantees on fair agreements." was the message delivered on behalf of Tom Deleu, EFBWW General Secretary.

Gerard Rijk from Profundo provided an overview of Heidelberg Materials and gave insights into the financial status of the company, its demographics, and the climate risks for the company. He also cited salient points of Profundo's research  on Heidelberg.

The delegates gave an overview of the cement industry and the challenges they face in their respective countries. The overall sentiment was concern regarding the deaths at the company operations, the lack of women and youth, and the lack of social dialogue. 

All participants were adamant that the company needs to open dialogue with the respective unions and find ways to combat these challenges. Therefore, the meeting put emphasis on bringing the global campaign on Heidelberg Materials to the next level.

Alexander Ivanou, IndustriALL materials industries’ director said that “Heidelberg recently removed ‘cement’ from its name and is likely to go through serious transformations that will impact workers and their jobs. Unfortunately, the company still turns a deaf ear to our invitation to establish a social dialogue at the global level and address workers’ concerns. Therefore, delegates gave us a clear mandate to take our campaign to the next level.”

The meeting was organised with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES).