On Thursday, the Rio Tinto Global Union Network took to the streets of Cape Town, supported by hundreds of members from IndustriALL Global Union affiliated mining unions, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and South African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU). The demonstrators demanded an end to Rio Tinto’s bad corporate behaviour at its operations around the world.
The rally culminated outside the Cape Town Convention Centre, where the world’s largest congress on mining, the Mining Indaba, was on its last day. Members of mining unions, as well as members of NGO’s, came together to point the spotlight on workers’ struggle for decent work at Rio Tinto plants across the world.
Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL, said that the race to the bottom must stop.
”As Rio Tinto is generating enormous profits from its operations, workers are struggling with unsafe, precarious work. The benefits from the mines should be shared with everyone and not only used for increasing company profits. Today’s situation is un-acceptable.”
The rally through Cape Town marked the end of a three-day long meeting of the IndustriALL’s Rio Tinto Global Union Network and the official launch of its campaign to increase unionisation at Rio Tinto.
Thanking everyone who attended the rally for their support, Andrew Vickers, general secretary of Australian affiliate CFMEU and chair of the IndustriALL mining section, said:
“Thank you for your support to launch this campaign to stop Rio Tinto – to stop Rio Tinto disrespecting trade unions, workers, agreements, and to stop terrorising and displacing communities.”
While people turned out in numbers to show their support for the mineworkers, Rio Tinto flatly refused to meet with representatives of the network to receive a memorandum of demands.
In the memorandum IndustriALL Global Union demands from Rio Tinto, the Chamber of Mines of South Africa, and the International Council on Mining and Metal to, among other things, stop interfering in the collective bargaining process and to ensure that workers at their operations have a right to refuse unsafe work.
Rio Tinto also needs to commit to engagement with workers and their trade unions, and to minimize precarious work while maximizing permanent, full-time employment at their operations.
“This is a struggle for workers everywhere. The campaign against Rio Tinto is dedicated to strengthening our workers and we will continue the fight”, said Senzeni Zokwana, president of NUM and vice president of IndustriALL.