The CEO of one of Latin America's largest steel producers is under fire from the IndustriALL Global Union ahead of next week's World Steel Association conference in Brussels.

The union is questioning the nomination of Daniel Novegil, one of four candidates up for Industrial Communicator of the Year at the 8th Steelie Awards, because it believes that he simply isn't communicating.

The awards will be presented next week (Monday 16th October) at the 50th World Steel Association (worldsteel) annual conference, being held in worldsteel's base in the Belgian capital.

However, Novegil’s company – Ternium – has repeatedly ignored and refused to communicate with Sitraternium, the union representing Ternium workers at its plant in Guatemala.

On 14 September 2017, IndustriALL, Sitraternium and the United Steelworkers filed an OECD complaint against the Latin American steel giant for its violations of OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in relation to workers’ rights in Guatemala.

In a letter to Edwin Basson, worldsteel’s director general, Carlos De Sanctis of the Tenaris Ternium Workers’ World Council, said the council “has raised our concerns and sought dialogue with the company multiple times, however it has received no response from Mr. Novegil or anybody else at Ternium. Although courts have ruled on multiple occasions that the company has acted illegally to prevent workers exercising their fundamental rights, the CEO has made no public statement on the matter and the company has continued their illegal rights violations”.

De Sanctis added “we believe that under the current circumstances Mr. Novegil does not ‘present the best face of the steel industry to the world at large’, which this award is said to recognise.”

Over the past four years, Ternium International Guatemala has fired labour leaders and only rehired them following a court order; denied the payment of union leave even when the Guatemalan law calls for it; and rejected all efforts of the union to negotiate a collective agreement, even when the vice-minister of Labour of Guatemala offered his services as a mediator.

Nominations for the award for ‘Industry Communicator of the Year’ are chosen by worldsteel and voted for by members of the media. Daniel Novegil is a board member of worldsteel, while Paulo Rocca, who is Chairman of Ternium, is on the executive committee.

IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, commented: “We urge Mr Novegil to live up to his nomination as Industry Communicator of the Year and strike a dialogue with his employees in Guatemala as soon as possible. As CEO of Ternium, he has a responsibility to communicate with, as well as listen, to workers. We again call on Ternium to recognise and negotiate with Sitraternium.”

Ternium, headquartered in Luxembourg, is one of the biggest steel companies in Latin America with more than 19,000 workers at production facilities in Guatemala, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, as well as the United States.

Sitraternium is affiliated to IndustriALL through Guatemalan union federation, FESTRAS.