Unions push for global effort against Rio Tinto

08.03.2012

Affiliates of the IMF, ICEM and ITGLWF call for a global campaign to address Rio Tinto's systemic attack on workers and unions around the world.

GLOBAL/CANADA: Affiliates of the International Metal Workers Federation, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers Unions, and the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation pledged global support for 780 locked-out Rio Tinto workers, represented by the United Steelworkers (USW) in Alma, Quebec.

At its joint Executive Committee meeting held in Geneva on February 29, members of the three global union federations, which will form a new organization in June, called for an international campaign to address the company's global attacks on workers and conditions.

"It appears that what is happening in Alma is part of a longer range strategy by Rio Tinto to launch an assault on union members globally both at smelters and at mines," stated the resolution, passed unanimously by executive committee members of the three organizations. "Recording profits of $14.2 billion in 2010 and $5.8 billion in 2011, the vicious attack on union workers in Alma and other workers throughout the world heralds a major escalation of Rio Tinto's anti-union practices."

The IMF, ICEM and ITGLWF resolved to mobilize union members at Rio Tinto facilities throughout the world and expose Rio Tinto's unsustainable economic, social and environmental practices.

The lockout, which began on December 31, 2011, is a result of USW members' refusal accept the company's demand to dramatically increase the number of contract workers, who earn approximately one-half the wages of permanent workers and no benefits.

Around the world, unions report that the company is forcing workers to accept unfair and unnecessary wage cuts and concessions or face plant closure.