IndustriALL targets Glencore for anti-union behaviour


In a significant moment for IndustriALL’s mining sector, a Glencore global network has been launched in Sao Paulo this week. The new global network committed to a mobilization programme.

The country reports from the 32 delegates representing IndustriALL affiliates from 14 countries were a testimony of “the consistent brutality and disrespect for workers' and unions' rights displayed by Glencore throughout its operations, all of which are in clear contrast to the public mirage created by its public relations machines,” said Andrew Vickers, Chair of the Mining Sector and General Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) of Australia.

The Glencore global network was established in the midst of a brutal anti-union drive by the mining and commodities giant in five different countries. These attacks are clear contradictions of Glencore’s claim that it respects human rights, community culture, collective bargaining and the right of employees to freely choose a union. Glencore’s practice is far different from its rhetoric.

  • In the United States, management at Glencore’s Sherwin Alumina plant in Texas has locked out members of the United Steelworkers (USW) since 11 October. Glencore is demanding drastic concessions, including stripping retirees of health care benefits and denying a secure retirement to the next generation.
  • In South Africa, 800 workers at the Koornfontein mine in Mpumalanga went on strike on 17 October to protest against substandard severance payments. Glencore offered one week of service per year in this mine, and in other operations it is paying three weeks. Workers in Koornfontein not only have to deal with losing their jobs but also an unfair settlement for the many years they produced coal for Glencore.
  • In Peru, workers at Antamina mine, on strike since 10 November, are subjected to health and safety violations on a regular basis and are being denied fair payment for bonuses and overtime. Workers are being excluded from the Miners’ Pension Fund and the company routinely violates the collective bargaining agreement.
  • In Australia, Glencore has refused to re-hire former employees at the Collinsville mine who are union members and has evicted the former workers and their families from company housing, with devastating impact on the local community.
  • In Colombia, a group of former army officers have linked Glencore to a paramilitary group responsible for murdering trade unionists. The paramilitary group trained at a camp located inside a Glencore mine. Glencore has violently evicted farmers from their homes as well as violated national health and safety laws. Glencore has systematically violated human rights, the right of workers to freedom of association and to freely negotiate a collective agreement. A chilling report was presented during the Sao Paolo network meeting of death threats received by Igor Diaz, the general secretary of Sintracarbon and its leadership.

The meeting heard how the safety situation at Glencore operations was alarming. In Peru and Colombia, the safety and health situation of workers was particularly disturbing, with reports of how injuries to workers are commonplace with Glencore refusing to work with trade unions to address these issues. In addition, it was found that the wholesale use of sub-contracting and precarious employment by Glencore at its global operations was a major contributing factor to the alarming statistics on safety and health.

The meeting concluded with a clear plan of action that will drive the activities of the network. The plan includes an immediate solidarity support by the global network to the USW for its planned activities at the Glencore investor day, 10 December 2014, which ironically coincides with the international human rights day.

Glen Mpufane, the IndustriALL Global Union Director of Mining, declared that Glencore’s day of reckoning may have arrived.

The Glencore global network meeting was held back to back with the launch of the Anglo American Global Network Meeting.