The world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal, and trade unions representing its employees across the globe yesterday signed a new and groundbreaking agreement to further improve health and standards throughout the company. The agreement, the first of its kind in the steel industry, recognises the vital role played by trade unions in improving health and safety. It sets out minimum standards in every site the company operates in order to achieve world class performance. These standards include the commitment to form joint management/union health and safety committees as well as training and education programs in order to make a meaningful impact on overall health and safety across the company.Also included in the agreement is the creation of a joint management/union global health and safety committee that will target plants in the group in order to help them to further improve their health and safety performance. The agreement was signed on June 3 by ArcelorMittal, the European Metalworkers’ Federation, the United Steelworkers and the International Metalworkers’ Federation.Commenting, ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO, Lakshmi N. Mittal said: “This agreement will build on the important work that we have already undertaken to date. Health and safety is our number one priority and in signing this agreement we hope to set a new benchmark for the industry. Innovation and a willingness to make bold decisions have been at the heart of our success. We are pleased to join our union partners and apply that same philosophy to our approach to health and safety”.Peter Scherrer, General Secretary of the European Metalworkers’ Federation, explained “We look forward to turning this agreement into more than just a piece of paper but a reality. Social dialogue and mutual respect are the foundations to any successful initiative and this agreement contains those principles”.Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers, added “Signing this agreement should act as a signal to other companies in the industry that unions are the solution to health and safety concerns, not the cause. Health and safety is the single most important issue for workers. It is satisfying that we have delivered this approach in the world’s number 1 steel company”.Marcello Malentacchi, General Secretary of the International Metalworkers’ Federation, concluded “In signing this agreement we are signalling our commitment to make a meaningful impact on current health and safety standards in the company. The success or failure of the agreement will depend on our continuing efforts to achieve our goal of every worker, whatever their position in the company, returning home safely at the end of each day”.