BWI – January 22, 2009

South Africa World Cup: Dutch Construction Union Visits 2010 Construction Sites

As the count down towards the 2010 World Cup Soccer Matches in South Africa is looming, Bert Van der Spek, a representative of the Dutch Christian Union for Wood and Construction Workers visited some construction sites and interacted with workers organised by the 3 BWI South Africa affiliates (BCAWU, NUM & SABAWO).

“Unions are still grappling with labour broking and subcontracting” said Bert van der Spek during a short visit to Gautrans, a construction site for an underground train from Oliver Tambo International airport to inner cities built by Bombela Consortium. The visit to Soccer City, a stadium which will host the final game in 2010 considered that there was “progressive social dialogue between Interbeton & Grinaker LTA and the unions, and this was critical for achieving decent working conditions for workers.”

The delegation was impressed with the level of organisation the South African Trade Unions have built and the cooperation employers are willing to give in their relations with trade unions. Skills shortage was one of the challenges South Africa was experiencing in preparations for 2010, in this regard the delegation also visited the Construction Skills Education and Training Authority – CETA, one of the thirteen (13) sectoral tripartite institutes which, is currently chaired by Narius Moloto – General Secretary of BCAWU. The delegation also met with the NUM and SABAWO leadership.

It is worth to note that Soccer City Stadium is built by one of the subsidiary of Royal Bam operating in South Africa as Interbeton working with Grinaker LTA, one of South Africa’s biggest construction company. BWI and Dutch Christian Union signed an international framework agreement with Royal Bam in 2006 on the promotion and protection of workers’ rights.

Crecentia Mofokeng, BWI regional representative for Africa and the Middle East and BWI financial accountant, Patrick Fonjallaz, were also part of the visit. Prior to the visit, the BWI had organised an internal audit at BWI South Africa office with Bert Van der Spek, one of the three BWI auditors (12 to 19 January 2009).

Progress on Labour Rights at the World Bank

The World Bank has agreed that Trade Unions rights to organise and to Collective Bargaining will now become mandatory, rather than just encouraged, on all Bank funded infrastructure projects. The Bank has also agreed to make non discrimination a binding rule for contractors bidding for Bank funded projects.

BWI General Secretary Anita Normark and Fiona Murie, the BWI’s Construction and Health and Safety Coordinator, were involved in high level discussions with the Bank last week, where officials confirmed that the new commitments will be introduced in July 2009.

The new Labour Clauses will apply to all construction projects funded by the Multilateral Development Banks worldwide, including on smaller construction works not included in International Competitive Bidding.

Anita Normark is pleased with the progress: “It has been a long time in coming, and these rights and obligations would certainly not have been introduced without the years of work we have put in from the BWI discussing with the Bank why we need these standards. Now that we have the standards on paper, we can really start to organise to put them into practice on building sites everywhere.”

BWI Revised Agreement With Faber Castell

BWI, IG Metall and Faber Castell revised the international framework agreement (IFA) from 3 March 2000. “The BWI is satisfied with the implementation and monitoring mechanism which is much stronger than before”, said Anita Normark, general secretary of the BWI. Normark adds: “The agreement covers provisions on freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, discrimination, decent wages and working conditions, forced labour, child labour, health and safety, living wages, employment conditions, working hours, HIV/AIDS, referencing the standards as established by the core labour conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).”

Faber-Castell is based in Stein/Nuremberg in Germany. It is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of writing, drawing and painting products as well as cosmetics pencils and applicators. The previous agreement was initially negotiated by the German Wood Workers Union GHK which merged with IG Metall in 2000.

For the IFA, click here.