The first Middle East and North Africa regional mining workshop was held on 30 November and 1 December 2016 in Casablanca, Morocco.
The workshop saw active participation from 33 representatives from Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. A key focus of the workshop was on safety and health in mines.
Participants came from these affiliates and potential affiliates:
- Tunisia: General Trade Union of Mining - GTUM
- Mauritania: Fédération Nationale de l’Energie Hydrocarbure et Mines et Industrie – FNEHMI
- Morocco: Syndicat National d'Energie et des Mines
- Morocco: Syndicat National des Travailleurs de Phosphates - SNTP-CDT
- Morocco: Mining Union of UMT
The workshop discussed using ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines as an instrument for improving conditions. The participants committed to campaigning for the ratification of the convention in Mauritania and Tunisia, and ensuring it is enforced in Morocco, where it has already been ratified.
Brian Kohler, health, safety and sustainability director for IndustriALL Global Union, gave a detailed presentation on the global campaign to end death and injury on mines.
He said: “The stronger the union, the safer the mine. Ultimately, all accidents are preventable. The first step to making mining safe and sustainable is worldwide ratification and implementation of Convention 176.
“I am very please to see the unions in this region developing joint work. This is an important first step in transforming the industry.”
The workshop participants spent time identifying their needs, and developing plans for joint work. Union leaders and health and safety officers will need training on both the technical and legal aspects of Convention 176.
Unions also identified a need to learn from other countries, particularly with regard to chemical safety in Europe, and the experience of South African mineworkers in improving safety through the integration of the convention in domestic legislation.
A major focus of the discussion was on developing strategies for integrating subcontractors into union work. Subcontracting is a growing feature of the sector, and it undermines terms and conditions as well as safety.
Participants identified some positive steps that will need to be taken, including:
- Putting pressure on governments to ratify and implement C176
- Developing innovative approaches to raising awareness of health and safety on mines
- Understanding the work of labour inspectors
- Research and risk assessment
- Addressing working hours and its impact on safety and health
- Engaging workers and their representatives in the process of hazards assessment at the workplace
The participants will develop an action plan at national levels to address the needs they identified.
Convention 176 requires governments to create a legislative and regulatory framework that protects workers’ safety and health, with a responsibility on both employers and workers to comply with certain requirements. The authorities are expected to supervise and inspect mines, report accidents and maintain statistics.
The mining industry in Morocco and Tunisia is dominated by phosphates, while Mauritania predominantly produces iron ore.