05 April 2001 18:49 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said Thursday it is unable to participate in a global industry-labour agreement on health and environmental issues because "many of our members felt it was inappropriate for ACC to engage directly in labour relations agreements."
The ACC also said in a statement that it is "very disappointed" in the position taken by the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) regarding the chemical industry environmental program Responsible Care, saying ICEM is "wrong."
ICEM said earlier today that ACC's decision to "take no position" on a proposed global agreement on health, safety and environmental (HSE) issues between ICEM and world chemical manufacturers "deliberately destroyed this international process" and may be "fatal" to the Responsible Care program.
ACC is among member groups in the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) that has been negotiating with ICEM toward a worldwide HSE standards and monitoring agreement. ICEM said the now likely failure to reach such an agreement poses "a particular threat to the chemical industry's Responsible Care program."
ICEM said Responsible Care, which it said "long lacked public credibility," could have gained "real substance" from a global industry-labour agreement but that failure of the talks will be "extremely damaging, perhaps fatal, for Responsible Care."
Richard Doyle, ACC vice president for Responsible Care, said: "We truly believe that the action taken by ICEM on Responsible Care is wrong."
"We understand their [ICEM] concern over the fact that we were not able to reach a formal agreement," Doyle said, "but from our standpoint many of our members felt it was inappropriate to ACC to engage directly in labour relations agreements."
Doyle challenged ICEM's characterisations of Responsible Care, saying the program is "an award-winning and highly successful health, safety and environmental performance improvement initiative." He said worker safety is of "paramount importance to our members" and that "workers in our member companies are four and a half times safer than the average of all other US manufacturing industries combined."
"Regardless of our disagreement over a formal agreement," Doyle added, "ICEM could have continued to throw its full support behind the successful implementation of Responsible Care."
In addition, he said, "Regardless of whether or not a formal written agreement was reached, the ACC believes that for the sake of continuing to increase worker safety we all need to aggressively pursue the continued implementation of Responsible Care."
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