21 February, 2019At a meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa on 7-8 February, around 20 union representatives from three African countries met Glencore’s global and country human resources managers to begin discussions on employment-related issues.
Union representatives from the African countries where Swiss-based mining and commodities giant has operations, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Africa and Zambia, met Glencore’s human resources (HR) management team for the first time at the launch of IndustriALL Global Union’s regional union network. The Glencore team included the HR managers from Mutanda Mining and Katanga Mining in the DRC, Mopani Copper Mines in Zambia, and Alloys Assets and Coal Assets in South Africa.
The benefits and effectiveness of constructive dialogue become a reality when a company works together with unions to improve working conditions, respect workers’ rights, pays decent living wages, employs more permanent workers, and improves health and safety, said participants at the meeting, which was facilitated by the IndustriALL central and regional offices.
IndustriALL’s affiliates elaborated the progress they expect from Glencore, which includes equal pay for work of equal value, good health and safety practices, maternity leave, and access to health services. Union representatives raised their demand that Glencore should hire more permanent workers and ensure that contractors enjoy the same rights under labour laws. Unions noted improvements in working conditions and community development.
The Glencore HR management team provided extensive information about the company and its labour-related policies and practices. They explained what they are doing at their operations to resolve the grievances raised by unions, how they engage with the unions, and the community projects that they are involved in.
Says Gerda Schwindt, the Glencore group head of HR:
“We welcomed the opportunity to engage with IndustriALL, allowing us to understand their concerns as well as highlighting our commitment to our ambition of being recognized as a top employer in all of our operating regions.”
Says Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary:
“We have started the interaction with Glencore in a form of constructive dialogue. The company should be able to listen to the concerns of the workers recognizing and respecting their fundamental rights with working conditions. I believe this dialogue with Glencore furthers labour relations in the operations of the company”.
The meeting ended up with a common understanding to develop similar dialogue at country level.
IndustriALL’s Glencore Global Union Network will be held in Colombia in September, and the company management is expected to be present with the same commitment to dialogue at global level.