25 delegates and observers from 10 countries gathered in Paris, where they debated on the future of their company and their jobs. In the nearest future Saint-Gobain is planning to change its structure, adapting it more to a digitised future in materials’ industries. The changes will imminently affect working conditions and working relations. The delegates exchanged over the different experiences on the process of digitisation already taking place within Saint-Gobain, a highly innovative player in the sector. Workers’ experience varies from country to country, but some things are clear already today: the company will change drastically, and some of the new structural changes will come very soon.
On the second day, the delegates had an open exchange with Mr Régis Blugeon, Social affairs director at Saint-Gobain group. Mr Blugeon pointed out that the group had to adapt its structure to the new market situation and must become lighter, more flexible and speedier.
Mr Blugeon also made a presentation about the values and core strategies of the group. The different trade union delegates used the opportunity to demand that the employees and their trade unions need to be part of the change process. They explicitly asked for information and consultation during the process and beyond. They also raised several open issues and addressed social dialogue matters. Mr Blugeon promised to look into the open cases and come back with answers, proposals and solutions. At the same time, he granted that the social dialogue would be taken serious on every level of the group, and that some matters required social dialogue also on global level.
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL’s director for materials industries and mechanical engineering, stated:
“IndustriALL believes in social dialogue. And we know from experience that some issues cannot be solved on local or country level alone; at some point, solutions can only be found on global level. We are willing to work together with management to find ways and means for this kind of problem solutions.”
In light of the discussion about social dialogue, the participants requested Saint-Gobain management to stick to its responsibility and keep the social dialogue with Brazilian trade unions. At the end of the meeting, the participants also decided to adopt a special statement in solidarity with Brazilian workers and their trade unions.
Saint-Gobain, a French multinational corporation, employs approximately 180,000 people in 67 countries of the world. In 2017, the Group generated 41 bn. euro in sales. The Group provides solutions for construction sector and also supplies materials to industrial and consumer markets, including automotive, aeronautical, and health and energy sector.