In response to Glencore and Xstrata’s arrogant refusal to meet with a delegation of IndustriALL Global Union affiliates to discuss labour issues in light of their intended merger, IndustriALL joined a delegation of activists in a demonstration at their headquarters in Zug, Switzerland.
On 11 July, IndustriALL Global Union joined with the Swiss Greens Party, local union UNIA and a number of civil society activists to demonstrate against the commodity giants Xstrata and Glencore in Zug, Switzerland after the company abruptly refused to meet with the unions.
IndustriALL’s Glen Mpufane, Mining Sector Director, addressed the chanting crowd saying,
We want to make the point here in this demonstration that our interests coincide with your interests, with those of communities, community-based organizations and indigenous communities and those of social and economic justice activists. The merger of Xstrata and Glencore is bad news for us and will represent a momentous milestone and celebration for monopoly capitalism.
With the mandate of IndustriALL the South African National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had scheduled a meeting on 19 July with Glencore and Xstrata in Zug, the meeting was triggered by NUM’s intention to file a dispute with the competition commission. NUM strategically invited key affiliates such as Australia’s Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and North American United Steel Workers (USW) to express their united opposition to the merger between Xstrata and Glencore and major concerns for the millions of miners that they represent.
Glencore representative, Clinton Ephron, based in Zug Head Office, cancelled the meeting with the unions with no clear indication why. “Further prove of the arrogance of Glencore is it’s refusal to meet with a delegation of IndustriALL affiliates by cancelling at the last minute,” said Mpufane, adding “In conclusion brothers and sisters, united we shall stand and divided we shall beg.” – “Amandla, power to the people,” the crowd cheered.
“This is a demonstration in solidarity with the victims of multinationals in prime materials and Zug is the centre of prime materials,” said Josef Lang, Vice President of the Swiss Green Party and member of the Zug cantonal union leadership. Protesters at the demonstration accused Glencore and Xstrata of disregarding the rights of local populations and damaging the environment. The Company deny these charges. Activist also came from South America, where the companies are involved in mining projects in Peru and Argentina and where human and trade union right are being violated.