For the first time in its history, IndustriALL Global Union (consisting of unions – including Unite – worldwide in manufacturing, energy and mining) has warned a transnational company that its relationship and a Global Framework Agreement they hold with an employer are in grave peril.
At a May 26th meeting of the IndustriALL Executive Committee, representatives of VW workers from around the world voted unanimously to hold Volkswagen to account for flouting the terms of its own social charter.
At the meeting, IG Metall (the giant German union) President Jörg Hofmann clearly stated: “It is not acceptable that companies abide by the law in Germany but disregard it in other countries. Workers’ rights should be respected worldwide – particularly by companies headquartered in Germany.”
By ignoring its legal responsibility to sit down and reach a working agreement with maintenance workers at its Chattanooga, USA plant – as confirmed and ordered by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board – Volkswagen violates its own Global Framework Agreement. Chattanooga workers voted overwhelmingly for the UAW in a vote held in December 2015. Volkswagen managers have already damaged the company’s profitability by concealing the diesel scandal, and they now seem determined to defy their legal responsibility to abide by the ruling of the U.S. labour court.
IndustriALL denounced Volkswagen’s “stall and delay” tactics, as often coached by anti-union consultants in the U.S., and demanded that Volkswagen “immediately” begin negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW).
UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel warned trade union leaders: “There is a cartel of capitalists in the South of the USA working in cohesion with right wing groups and antiunion lawyers. The tricks and tactics in the south of the US won’t remain there – they will be coming to you soon.”
IndustriALL affiliates decided that if the company does not agree to talks by the June 22nd Annual General Meeting of Volkswagen, the Global Union will initiate actions under its “Charter of Solidarity in Confronting Corporate Violations of Fundamental Rights.”
The Charter prescribes a series of actions in response to companies that refuse to recognize basic labor standards in their global plants.
Should the Charter be invoked, IndustriALL cautioned, the organization will “initiate further actions which could lead to the eventual revocation of the Global Framework Agreement between IndustriALL and Volkswagen.”
A timeline of the Chattanooga dispute can be found by clicking here