Update regarding the situation on the Chalon-sur-Saône site
Courbevoie, January 20, 2020 - Following the various statements made by the CGT trade union from the Chalon-sur-Saône site internally and in the press, Verallia would like to recall certain important elements to restore the reality of the facts. The procedure of "serious and imminent danger" initiated on January 6, 2020 by the CGT, a danger immediately contested by Verallia, was closed on January 17, 2020 with the unanimous agreement of the trade unions.
About the asbestos risk
Verallia complies with its regulatory obligations in terms of employee safety and environmental protection, and conducts, in compliance with standards and under the supervision of the authorities, regular assessments with the help of certified external service providers.
Following a fire on July 16, 2019 that partially damaged the plant's roof, Verallia immediately carried out all environmental and safety investigations, including several measurements on the presence of asbestos in the air. The studies were carried out on July 18 and 19, 2019 by an independent and certified analysis firm, whose results are clear: "No asbestos fibers were counted. No pollution of the area was detected".
On July 18, 2019, Verallia had further asbestos measurements carried out by another independent and COFRAC-certified laboratory. The results confirmed the absence of asbestos fibers and the absence of any risk in this respect.
These results were officially brought to the attention of the Health, Safety and Working Conditions Committee on September 26, 2019.
On September 10, 2019, a certified external service provider carried out an asbestos diagnosis of the roof, which confirmed that the measures taken were satisfactory. It was established that the roof did not present any risk to the occupants.
On September 12, 2019, the Labour Inspectorate visited the site and was kept informed of the entire matter after having intervened several times during the repair of the roof.
These analyses all showed an absence of asbestos fiber in the air, confirming the absence of danger for the plant's employees and local residents alike.
The CGT states that on October 30, 2019 it took samples, without informing Verallia Chalon-sur-Saône's management, which discovered the existence of this procedure and its results (dated November 7, 2019) more than two months later in a leaflet dated January 6, 2020 sent at the same time to the authorities and the press.
On November 12 and 14, 2019, at official meetings, the CGT made no statement and did not raise the subject of a potential asbestos risk.
In any event, the study carried out by the CGT was aimed at determining the presence of asbestos fiber in materials, which is common in industrial buildings, whereas the standards in force are aimed at compliance with regulatory thresholds in the air.
At the end of November 2019, new measurements of the presence of asbestos in the air, within the mold shop, were carried out by a certified outside service provider. The results are as follows: "No asbestos fibers were counted. No pollution of the area was detected.". The employees of the workshop and the occupational medicine department were officially informed of these results on December 16, 2019.
Following the December 2019 storm, new checks undertaken from January 7, 2020 onwards confirm the absence of danger for both the employees and the local residents. The trade unions unanimously closed the alert on January 17, 2020.
About the right to alert and the disciplinary procedure
Verallia has an alert system in place and respects its employees' right to alert. Nevertheless, a whistleblower has the duty to inform his or her hierarchy before triggering a crisis situation that could panic employees and those living near the plant. In the present case, the alert issued for serious and imminent risk to public health and the environment by asbestos pollution by certain CGT elected officials of Verallia Chalon on January 6, 2020 was made with a two-month delay and was based on invalid arguments.
It should be noted that the two other trade unions representing the majority of the employees at the Chalon site immediately disassociated themselves from the CGT's actions.
As regards the precautionary suspension of three of the company's employees, these are procedures that fall within a legal framework and will be subject to analysis by the competent authorities.
Moreover, the accusation of murder brought against the management is so serious and has such detrimental effects that the company has decided to bring a defamation suit against the perpetrators.
About Verallia - Verallia is the leading European and the third largest producer globally of glass containers for food and beverages, and offers innovative, customized and environmentally-friendly solutions.
The Group posted €2.4 billion in revenue and produced 16 billion bottles and jars in 2018. Verallia employs around 10,000 people and comprises 32 glass production facilities in 11 countries.
Verallia is listed on compartment A of the regulated market of Euronext Paris (Ticker: VRLA – ISIN: FR0013447729) and is included in the following indices: SBF 120, CAC Mid 60, CAC Mid & Small et CAC All-Tradable.
For more information: www.verallia.com
Verallia - Marie Segondat - marie.segondat [at] verallia.com - +33 6 11 44 00 09
Brunswick - Benoît Grange / Yannick Tetzlaff - verallia [at] brunswickgroup.com - +33 1 53 96 83 83