Etex, Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and Ceramic Workers’ Union of the Republic of Argentina (FOCRA)
Lead NCPBelgium
Supporting NCP(s)Argentina
DescriptionSpecific instance submitted by the trade unions Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and Ceramic Workers’ Union of the Republic of Argentina (FOCRA) regarding the activities of Etex, a multinational enterprise operating in Argentina.
Theme(s)General policies, Disclosure, Human rights, Employment and industrial relations
Date29 Feb 2016
Host country(ies)Argentina
SourceTrade Union
Industry sectorConstruction

Read the initial assessment issued by the Belgian NCP – 14 July 2016

Read the final statement issued by the Belgian NCP – 17 October 2017

Read the follow up statement issued by the Belgian NCP- 7 June 2018

Read the second follow up statement (FR) issued by the Belgian NCP - 13 May 2019

On 29 February 2016, the trade union Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and its affiliate Ceramica Workers’ Union of the Republic of Argentina (FOCRA) submitted a specific instance to the NCPs of Belgium and Argentina regarding the activities of the enterprise Ceramica San Lorenzo, a subsidiary of the Belgian enterprise Etex operating in Argentina. The submitter directly called for the Belgian NCP to take the lead in this specific instance.

BWI states that Etex did not observe the Guidelines during a restructuration process which started in October 2015 since they did not consult with trade unions, provide precise information on the financial status of the enterprise or respect the right to collective bargaining. In addition, BWI claims that Etex does not apply due diligence and fails to respect human rights.

On 25 April 2016, the Belgian NCP met with representatives of Etex and received more information about the company and its operations in Argentina. BWI and Etex both provided additional information to the Belgian NCP during the months of May and June.

On 14 July 2016, the Belgian NCP published its initial assessment accepting the specific instance and offering its support in facilitating dialogue between the submitter and the enterprise.

From September 2016 to January 2017, the Belgian NCP met twice with Etex Group’s representatives to explain in details the process of the mediation and to convince the company to meet with BWI under the hospice of the NCP. Additional confidential documents related to the case were shared by the company. The Belgian NCP also met once with BWI to better understand their expectations. BWI reiterated their willingness to enter into mediation the soonest possible.

On 3 April 2017, the NCP gathered all parties for a discussion in order to set up the terms of reference and scope of the upcoming mediation. It was decided that the scope of the mediation would be around a redrafting of the Code of Conduct of the Etex Group. At the end of the meeting, the final approval of the scope of the mediation was still to be confirmed in the upcoming weeks by the Etex Group’s management.

On 11 July 2017, after several additional talks with both parties, the Etex Group decided to not enter into mediation but to engage unilaterally in a revision of its Code of Conduct stating that it will include a reference to the OECD Guidelines.

This verdict lead the Belgian NCP to close the case and to issue its final statement, dated 17 October 2017.

In its conclusions the Belgian NCP welcomed positively the fact that the Etex Group announced a revision of its Code of Conduct including the OECD Guidelines. The NCP also expressed regrets regarding the fact that the company will engage unilaterally. The involvement of the social partners in the life of the company is an essential foundation of the social dialogue. The NCP remains convinced that its mediation offer could have led to a positive outcome by engaging all stakeholders.

Lastly, the announcements of the Etex Group took place almost a year and a half after the filing of the specific instance. The NCP regrets that it took so much time to initiate a change process.

Stakeholders were invited to a follow-up meeting of the recommendations within six months from the date of publication of the final statement. A follow up statement was issued in June 2018.

As Etex Group did not provide a timely response to the follow up, a second and final follow up statement (FR) was published by NCP on the 13 May 2019.

In the second follow up statement, the NCP thanked Etex Group for finally having presented its new code of conduct, the NCP noted it was not developed in consultation with the trade unions. The NCP encourages Etex group to implement the code of conduct and to disseminate it with internal and external stakeholders. Etex’s presentation of its new code of conduct at a meeting organised by the NCP was the last engagement that the company took with the NCP, thereby closing the dialogue.