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BASF: South American workers analyze impacts of Industry 4.0

Before meeting with the company, IndustriALL Global Union’s South American regional trade union network met on 9 and 10 July to prepare. The network members expressed their solidarity with the former president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, and supported the campaign to demand his freedom.

BASF is a leader in the global chemical sector in the implementation of cybernetic technologies, which are already a reality for its employees worldwide. The network discussed what industry 4.0 will bring to the company’s workers in South America. Great changes are expected, but the network wanted to better understand and articulate the issues and their impacts.

The network noted that the new industrial revolution completely changes the distribution of jobs, social roles in different countries, and union organization. They agreed to continue networking and promoting strategies to work with new technologies.

Sergio Novais, one of the founders of the network, as well as the national network in Brazil, and secretary of administration of CNQ/CUT said:

“A union network of workers is a great form of solidarity. One of the challenges is to try to organize those who work from home, teleworkers, due to the digitalization of employment”.

Network coordinator and political coordinator of Fetquim, Airton Cano, said:

“In addition to including potential threats to the world of work and to all countries involved, the discussion on Industry 4.0 should have a focus on social dialogue”.

The participants agreed to establish productive social dialogue to ensure that the transformations of digitization and industry 4.0 are carried out fairly for workers.

At the expanded social dialogue meeting on July 11-12, BASF high level officers from headquarters in Germany, as well as South American regional and country managements, were present. IndustriALL German affiliate IG BCE and the chief of works council from the company’s home in Ludwigshafen joined the meeting.

The agenda included developments at BASF globally and regionally, with perspectives for the future. An intensive debate was held on digitalization and demography, considering the company’s recent practices.

Sinisha Horvat, chair of the works council and member of the supervisory board of BASF, explained how Industry 4.0 is handled in Germany, with joint union-management committees working together to prepare workers and tackling the challenges.

Francesco Grioli, IG BCE board member, underlined the importance of supply chain management given the developing international norms and standards. Grioli referred to the cooperation with the unions in corporate social responsibility practices.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary said:

“It was impressive to see such high quality and mature discussions on Industry 4.0 by the network, as well as the level of social dialogue with the company.

“New challenges and opportunities need to be handled at company level and this example of BASF in South America is important”.


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