Give Freudenberg Group credit for demonstrating a social conscience by signing a global cooperative agreement with an international labor organization. Give Freudenberg even more credit for being smart.
The pact with the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions sets guidelines for work rules and policies at the German sealing and vibration control producer's operations throughout the world. The agreement is a framework and therefore doesn't supplant local bargaining units and national trade unions.
A worldwide labor pact may be anathema to tire and rubber product companies that operate on a global scale and seek out low-wage regions. But take a close look at what Freudenberg has agreed.
The company said it will recognize its employees' right to join trade unions and won't discriminate against them if they do. Unless a company is out to break a union, what's wrong with that?
Freudenberg agreed to follow United Nations guidelines about forced and child labor. Any objections? The company said it will cooperate in striving toward job security and social justice and seek solutions to problems through "appropriate dialogue." Isn't discussion the key component of bargaining, anyway?
Finally, Freudenberg made a commitment to environmental protection and safety in the workplace and with its products. What company would oppose that?
While confirming policies it probably already pursues, Freudenberg has taken a big step toward keeping labor relations on an even keel. That gives it an edge over competitors that take a more combative approach to labor.