Holcim-Lafarge unions seek guarantees binding for asset buyers

PARIS, July 10 Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:33am EDT

PARIS, July 10 (Reuters) - Unions representing thousands of European workers affected by the sale of assets proposed by merging cement groups Lafarge and Holcim have asked the pair for specific employment guarantees that would be binding for the buyers.

In a draft statement seen by Reuters, the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers said the works councils of the two companies had been promised working conditions would be a factor determining the choice of buyer, but that no precise set of conditions had been provided.

"The works councils are saying there should be guarantees that no job should be threatened by these divestments," the statement said.

"They are also asking that existing collective bargaining guarantees should be maintained and that high quality dialogue on working conditions be kept in place for those activities that are sold."

Earlier this week, the companies listed 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion) worth of assets they would sell in Europe and elsewhere in their efforts to get regulatory approval for the deal to create to the world's biggest cement maker.

The companies said they would seek buyers for operations in Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Britain, Canada, the Philippines, Mauritius and Brazil, a series of sell-offs that would affect some 10,000 workers out of their global total of 130,000 and account for around 3.5 billion euros of sales.

Competition regulators in some fifteen countries, as well as the European Commission, are expected to take a hard look at the deal, which brings together the world's top two cement makers with a combined stock market value of more than $55 billion.

Europe's top competition regulator, Joaquin Almunia, has said the merger would be subject to an in-depth review, known as a "phase 2" examination.

($1 = 0.7331 Euros) (Reporting by Gilles Guillaume; Writing by Andrew Callus; Editing by Ingrid Melander)

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