As Rio Tinto investors arrive in London for the company’s annual general meeting, IndustriALL Global Union, Unite the Union and London Mining Network bring together trade unionists and affected communities to call on the company to clean up its operations and put an end to their poor treatment of workers, indigenous communities and the environment.
Rio Tinto, one of the biggest mining companies in the world, faces vocal criticism and protest on the morning of its AGM for its anti-union behaviour, worker health and safety catastrophes, poor relations with communities, suspect political activities, failure to respect indigenous peoples’ rights, and lack of transparency.
Those protesting will include community members and workers from Rio Tinto sites in Mongolia, Madagascar, Inuit communities in Canada, Indonesia, Apache communities in the USA, France, Australia, Namibia and more.
While the company publicly commits to respect trade union rights, it also openly defends what it calls “direct engagement” where the union is treated as an external, unwanted force. While it claims ‘environmental stewardship,’ Rio Tinto mines have regularly polluted the air and water surrounding their operations, from West Papua to Wisconsin.
Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union says:
“Among the many bad offenders of workers’ rights in the mining industry, Rio Tinto has been picked out for its anti-worker arrogance as well as its damage to local communities and the environment. The company systematically fails on environmental, social and governance factors and our campaign will continue until Rio Tinto becomes the social actor it describes itself to be.
“All we seek is respect for workers, communities and the environment.”
Simon Dubbins, Unite's Director of International says:
”The way Rio Tinto treats it workers and the communities it operates in makes an utter mockery of any claim to be a socially responsible employer. With our global federation IndustriALL we are building a global campaign that will bring together workers and their unions with community activists. We have now amassed excellent experiences in other corporate campaigns and we will use all our knowledge and resources to hold Rio Tinto to account and force it to change its behaviour.”
Richard Solly, coordinator of the London Mining Network says:
“Year after year at Rio Tinto's AGMs, representatives of communities across the world make clear their concerns about Rio Tinto's behaviour. Year by year, the company thanks them for coming, says it respects their views, and offers dialogue. But the pace of actual improvement in the company's behaviour is glacial. It needs to walk its talk.”
When? 10:00 – 11:00, Thursday, 16 April, London
Where? Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster
The Facebook page for the protest: https://www.facebook.com/events/1574775316131163
IndustriALL Global Union’s report “Rio Tinto: The way it really works”, provides more info on Rio Tinto’s controversial practices and the risks it entails to the company. The report will be released tonight at www.industriall-union.org/riotinto