On Monday 12 September, the Lafarge Group, the IFBWW (International Federation of Building and Wood Workers), the ICEM (International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions) and the WFBWU (World Federation of Building and Woodworkers Unions) met in Paris for the signature of an international agreement concerning Lafarge's approach to social responsibility and international labour relations, which will apply to the 75 countries in which the Group is present and its 77,000-strong workforce.
In accordance with Lafarge Group values and practices as set forth in its principles of action as early as 1977 and in keeping with signature of the UN's Global Compact in early 2003, this agreement enshrines the Group's commitment to social responsibility through dialogue with staff representatives on an international level.
By means of this agreement, Lafarge is affirming its determination to see that throughout the world are respected the following fundamental labour rights as set down in ILO (International Labour Organisation) agreements:
- No forced labour,
- No discrimination in employment,
- No use of child labour,
- Freedom of association and right to collective bargaining,
- Living wages,
- Working hours,
- Health, safety and working conditions,
- Skills training.
A reference group, comprised of representatives from Lafarge senior management and signatory international federations, will meet at least once annually to monitor the situation and draft an annual report for public release. This agreement is open ended.
Christian Herrault, the Group's Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Organization, declared: "Lafarge is convinced that there can be no sustainable economic success without progress in the fields of social responsibility and environmental protection. Consequently, this broader vision which goes beyond economic factors to embrace human, labour and environmental aspects has been built into our programmes underpinning performance and managerial processes. Since its founding, the Group has consistently valued the central role played by its workforce within the company and signature of this agreement represents a further step forward in our ongoing dialogue with staff."
Anita Normark, General Secretary of IFBWW welcomed the commitment of Lafarge to apply international labour standards at all worksites worldwide. "The value added of the agreement with Lafarge must be seen, that the three federations have a global network of trade unions which are able to monitor the agreement."
“We welcome Lafarge's commitment to uphold high principles of social responsibility in all global operations, whether it's on workers' rights, union recognition, environment, health and safety, or other recognised international work standards,” stated ICEM General Secretary Fred Higgs.
Stefaan Vanthourenhout President of WFBW, sees in the agreement a good investment in social dialogue: "Social dialogue between our unions and Lafarge will increase productivity and in this regard improve the competitiveness of the company"
The IFBWW (International Federation of Building and Wood Workers) organizes 281 trade unions with over 10.5 million members in 125 countries working in building, construction materials, wood, forestry and related industries.
The ICEM (International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions) is the world federation of unions active in chemical products, energy, mining products and related processing industries such as cement, glass and ceramics. This federation organises 425 unions in 121 countries representing around 20 million workers in these industries.
The WFBWU (World Federation of Building and Woodworkers Unions) represents 1.5 million workers in the construction and wood industries organised into 55 unions in 41 countries around the world.
Lafarge, the world leader in building materials, holds top-ranking positions in all four of its Divisions: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete, Roofing and Gypsum. Lafarge employs 77,000 people in 75 countries and posted sales of €14.4 billion in 2004.