Franco-German cooperation agreement between chemical workers' unions

In April 1999, the German Mining, Chemical and Energy Union (IG BCE) and the chemicals sector federation of the French CFDT trade union confederation signed an agreement which aims to intensify cooperation in the fields of general information exchange, European Works Councils, collective bargaining policy, joint training seminars, trade union youth policy and the development of European-level industrial relations.

On 20 April 1999 the general secretary of the Chemical and Energy Workers' Federation affiliated to France's CFDT trade union confederation (Fédération Chimie-Énergie-CFDT, FCE-CFDT), Jacques Khéliff, and the president of the German Mining, Chemical and Energy Union (IG Bergbau Chemie Energie, IG BCE), Hubertus Schmoldt, signed a new "Franco-German cooperation agreement". The two unions have long experience of bilateral cooperation, which recently became very much intensified because of the announcement of the merger of the German-based pharmaceuticals group, Hoechst, and its French-owned counterpart, Rhône-Poulenc (FR9812146F).

The new cooperation agreement identifies a broad range of fields of work in which IG BCE/FCE-CFDT cooperation should be intensified, such as:

  • exchange of information on collective agreements and socio-economic developments in chemicals and related sectors, as well as mutual exchange of contributions to trade union journals;
  • intensification of joint cooperation at the level of European Works Councils;
  • coordination of trade union policy;
  • organisation of joint union seminars;
  • mutual care for union members, whereby each union should give the same support and services to the members of the other union as to its own members; and
  • extension of joint seminars and meetings for young union members.

Furthermore, both unions declare that they wish to strengthen the role of the European Mine, Chemical and Energy Workers' Federation (EMCEF) and to create a sectoral European social dialogue. In the run-up to the elections to the European Parliament in June 1999, both unions drew up a joint paper setting out minimum trade union requirements for further European integration, to be sent to all French and German political parties and all candidates in both countries.

IG BCE and FCE-CFDT see the Franco-German cooperation agreement as an important contribution to the creation of a "European trade union identity". In future, the two unions will meet once a year to evaluate the state of their cooperation and the success of joint initiatives.

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