Saint-Gobain V International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Union (ICEM)

Overview

NCP Decision Accepted
Current Status Closed
Date Submitted 05/06/2003
Date Closed 01/05/2007
Case Duration 203 weeks and 5 days
Host Country US  (OECD member)
Issue(s) Right to trade union representation, the right to information for meaningful negotiations and the right to a safe and healthy workplace
Provisions Cited IV.1-a  IV.1-b  IV.4-a  IV.4-b   
Case Description In June 2003, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Union (ICEM), together with the American unions the AFL-CIO and UAW, submitted a case to the US NCP concerning violations of the right to organise (through challenging the union-won election and threatening and intimidating workers who supported the union), the right to information for meaningful negotiations and the right to a safe and healthy workplace. The unions requested the US NCP to bring the matter to the attention of the French NCP.

Saint-Gobain’s actions had also led to complaints from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) nd citations and fines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Developments The US NCP and the French unions informed the French NCP about the case. The French NCP then contacted the management of Saint-Gobain, which stated that the issue was part of their bargaining process.

In October 2003, the French NCP confirmed its willingness to co-operate in a letter to the US NCP and requested information on progress with the case.

In December 2003, the case was discussed at a meeting of the French NCP. The French trade union, the CGT, suggested that the NCP should convene a meeting with the management of Saint-Gobain and the leadership of UAW. The French NCP, however, considered it the responsibility of the US NCP to set up such a meeting.

In December 2003, Saint-Gobain submitted a letter to the US NCP stating that the issues should be considered by the NLRB, not the NCP.

In February 2004, the UAW responded in a letter to the US NCP, arguing that national law was being used as a reason for not taking action under the Guidelines. The UAW repeated its request for a meeting with top management in France.

Various letters from 2004 show that the US did not respond because Saint Gobain did not respond to the allegations.

In the meantime, another conflict emerged over health and safety issues, with Saint Gobain refusing to cooperate with US inspection bodies. The UAW contacted the industrial advisor at the French Embassy in Washington.

The US NCP requested that the French NCP contact Saint Gobain's management in order to compel it to meet with the UAW. Saint Gobain declined the invitation and asked the US NCP to contact the Saint Gobain delegation in the US.

In January 2005, the ICEM together with French unions met with the management of Saint-Gobain in France. The management stated that the company was not hostile to union representation in the US, but refused to intervene in the dispute.

The same month, a decertification vote was held at the US plant. The union objected to the election, but the result was confirmed by the NLRB in March 2006. Thus, the union could no longer represent the workers.

Outcome In 2006, following the decertification, the US NCP closed the case. The CGT then unsuccessfully petitioned the French NCP to intervene but the French NCP closed the case in May 2007.

Organisations

Lead NCP US NCP : Single Department with Interagency Working Group 
Supporting NCP France NCP : Tripartite (involving several government departments and the social partners) 

Companies

Multinational Company Saint-Gobain (Home country: France)
Subsidiary Saint-Gobain Abrasives (Home country: US)

Complainants

Lead Complainant ICEM International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions : Global Union Federation 

TUAC Analysis

Did the NCP publish its initial assessment? status-icon
Did the case involve parallel proceedings? status-icon
Was the existence of parallel proceedings an obstacle to the NCP accepting the case? status-icon
Was the businsess relationship other than that of a subsidiary? status-icon
Was the nature of the business relationship an obstacle to the NCP accepting the case? status-icon
Did the NCP inform other relevant government departments about its acceptance of this case? status-icon
Did the NCP offer mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Did the company accept the offer of mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Did the complainant(s) accept the offer of mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Was mediation or conciliation held? status-icon
Was mediation or conciliation conducted by a professional mediator? status-icon
Did the parties reach agreement? status-icon
If yes, did the NCP publish this agreement following the consent of the parties? status-icon
If mediation was refused or failed did the NCP make an assessment of whether the company had breached the Guidelines? status-icon
Did the NCP conduct in-host country fact finding? status-icon
Did the NCP make recommendations to the company on the future implementation of the Guidelines? status-icon
Did the NCP publish its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP provide for follow-up of the agreement/recommendations? status-icon
Did the NCP inform other relevant government departments about its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP inform public pension funds about its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP apply any consequences in this case? status-icon
Did the NCP follow the indicative timescales set out in the procedural guidance? status-icon
Was there a positive outcome for the workers involved in this case? status-icon
Did the filing of the case under the Guidelines have a positive impact for the workers involved? status-icon
Did the lead NCP play a positive role? status-icon
If different, did the home NCP play a positive role? status-icon

Implications

Good example of NCP cooperation