The purpose of the agreement, which was signed at Hydro's headquarters in Oslo on Tuesday, is to continue an open channel of information between Hydro and the unions about industrial relation issues in order to continuously improve and develop good work practices in Hydro’s worldwide operations.
The basic principles in the agreement include support for fundamental human rights in the community and place of work. The parties also recognize the importance of protecting safety, health and well being at work.
Hydro already has a comprehensive program for corporate social responsibility that has produced a variety of policies that embody the company’s values worldwide. The company strives to abide by the principles set forth in those policies and to continuously improve and develop good work practices.
The new agreement, which will come in addition to the established programs, has been important to the unions.
“We are very pleased that we through this agreement can enable and extend the long-lasting relationship between management and unions to other parts of our worldwide operations,” says Billy Fredagsvik, employee representative on Hydro’s board of directors.
“This agreement represents an important fundament for global social dialog, which is essential for continued healthy growth and development of a global company like Hydro,” says Sten Roar Martinsen, also employee representative on Hydro’s board of directors.
Wenche Agerup, executive vice president and head of Hydro's corporate staffs, also welcomes the agreement: “Hydro has in its 105 years history good experience in maintaining an open dialogue with its employees. The global frame agreement further strengthens the world-wide development of the union relationships.”
Covering all activities where Hydro has direct control
The unions signing the agreement are the Norwegian union partners Fellesforbundet (the Norwegian United Federation of Trade Unions) and Industri Energi, and the IMF (the International Metalworkers’ Union) and ICEM (the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Union).
The principles of the agreement take into consideration the International Labour Organisation’s 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, certain ILO Conventions and Recommendations, the United Nations Global Compact, the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, as well as Hydro’s own policies that derive from its corporate social responsibility initiative.
The agreement covers all activities where Hydro has direct control, the realization of which shall be in accordance with national law and practice of the host country within which Hydro is located. Where Hydro does not have overall control, it will exercise its best efforts in order to secure compliance with the standards set out in the agreement. As agreed between the parties, certain elements related to operations in the U.S. are not finalized and a working group will be established looking into this.
The initial agreement has two-year duration and can be extended after that period.