Speaking to journalists at the Foreign Press Association in London today, 26 June 2012, the newly elected General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union Jyrki Raina said, “Rio Tinto’s operations in Africa are a story of displaced communities, broken promises, cozy arrangements with local dictators and the oppression of union involvement.”
The struggles that workers and communities face in South Africa, Namibia, Madagascar, Mozambique and Cameroon are documented in the report, Rio Tinto in Africa: Global citizen or corporate shame?, released by IndustriALL (INSERT URL).
“Our new global union is launching our first global campaign in the mining industry, and we will be targeting one of the world’s biggest miners – Rio Tinto,” said Raina.
Rio Tinto earns $15 billion per year. Too much of Rio Tinto’s profits are built on a record of environmental damage, exploitative labour practices and human rights abuses,” said Raina.
In Mozambique the resettlement of communities to make way for the development of a coal mine has left people without access to the food, firewood and indigenous medicines they rely on and without adequate compensation.
In Namibia, workers at the Rössing uranium mine are reporting higher than average incidence of ill health and a lack of information and training on workplace risks and safety precautions to protect their health.
“Like many other mining companies they devote millions to proclaiming what a good corporate citizen they are, while doing their best to drive down environmental and labour standards in every country they operate in,” added Raina.
Rio Tinto’s poor behavior is not only limited to Africa. Since the beginning of this year Rio Tinto has locked out 780 workers at it facility in Alma, Quebec, punishing the workers and their union, the United Steelworkers (USW), for rejecting management attempts to halve salaries and outsource the workforce.
“I oppose what Rio Tinto is doing because I believe that justice is not negotiable. IndustriALL will highlight Rio Tinto as a “repeat offender” that has a pattern of destructive behavior it repeats across the globe,” said Raina.
“IndustriALL’s role as a global union must be to rebalance the distribution of power in the global economy, away from multinational corporations and towards nations, communities and people,” said Raina.
A network of unions that organize workers at Rio Tinto operations around the world met in Sydney in April this year and agreed to work together with IndustriALL to gather information, report globally and take action on what is happening on the ground in the company's operations.
To find out more or get involved, please contact Glen Mpufane at: firstname.lastname@example.org