H2 Green Steel to cooperate with trade union Byggnads in Norrbotten for safe working conditions

H2 Green Steel’s agreement with the construction trade union is part of the company’s broader social sustainability focus on fair and safe working conditions on site. It ensures that H2 Green Steel’s contractors use collective bargaining agreements and places limits on the use of subcontractors.

As work expands at the construction site in Boden and with project funding secured, the number of construction workers at the company’s 270-hectare site in Boden, Sweden, will grow rapidly in 2024. This agreement is a key step to enable a safe and compliant workplace and to prevent work-life crime.  

Sustainability is part of H2 Green Steel’s DNA. Quite early in the project, challenges that surround a lot of the construction business in general and large construction sites in particular were identified. About two years ago, CEO Henrik Henriksson tasked the construction team with the mission to find and implement the best possible practices to find and spearhead different ways and means of working. 

“We don’t just want to be sustainable from a climate perspective, but also from a social perspective. With so many people on site, we have a big responsibility to do things right,” says Johan van der Bijl, head of construction. “Early on, we understood the types of challenges that can come with a construction project of this size, including criminal behavior, exploitation of workers, and dangerous accidents. That’s why we have worked actively to encourage best practices, and we have come a long way.” 

After several contacts with authorities and the parties on the labor market as well as different experts, it became clear that the work needed to be addressed in a systematic way and using three “Cs” – clear requirements, control, and consequences.  

One of those requirements is that all contractors and subcontractors have collective agreements in place for their employees. To ensure compliance and enable oversight, the agreement also limits the extent to which construction companies can rely on subcontractors.  

“This historic cooperation agreement is based on the Swedish model with collective bargaining agreements. It gives us a unique opportunity to work together in our efforts to ensure things are in order. We hope that other players that commission construction projects follow H2 Green Steel’s initiative to ensure healthy competition in the industry,” says Joakim Lindholm, Chairman Byggnads in Region Norrbotten. 

The agreement is part of a wider program to ensure compliance and safety at the massive construction site, where Europe’s first new steel mill in half a century is being built. The broader measures include requirements for ID06 identity cards, regular identification checks, inspections of companies with employees working on site, and continued cooperation with the relevant authorities.  

“We start from the perspective that it is not more expensive to hire contractors that do things the right way. In the long run, we all benefit from healthy competition and good working conditions,” says van der Bijl. “The work won’t be easy, and it’s important that we approach this huge task with a humble mindset.”  

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Green Steel World Editorial Team

Green Steel World Editorial Team

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