14 November, 2019The mining industry accounts for more than half of Mongolia’s gross domestic product (GDP). And yet, health and safety in the country’s mines is poor.
On 28 October, around 140 participants from trade unions, employers' associations, the government, civil society and academics, met to address how to implement ILO’s convention 176 on safety and health in mines, at a conference hosted by IndustriALL’s affiliate Federation of Energy, Geology and Mining Workers’ Trade Unions of Mongolia (MEGM).MEGM president, Buyanjargal Khuyag stressed the importance of implementing C176:
"The convention is ratified and has been in force since November 2015. However, health and safety for miners has not sufficiently improved. It’s unclear whether Mongolian laws and regulations comply with the convention, which is why there is an urgent need for social dialogue."
In a video presentation, Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL mining director, emphasised the importance of a 'rights-based approach' when it comes to occupational safety and health issue, saying:
"Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work; the right to be provided with information and training on the hazards and how to work safely; the right to make and receive reports on accidents and dangerous occurrences; and the right to select safety and health representatives who participate in inspection and investigation."
Participants pointed out that the division of roles between the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Heavy industries and Mining is unclear when it comes to health and safety inspections in mines, and that workers' representatives are not active enough in raising issues in the Health and Safety Committee.
There were proposals to improve the quality of government statistics related to industrial accidents, to provide trainings on health and safety at work with a union perspective, and to change company cultures from "profit first" to "life first".
MEGM submitted a policy proposal to the Mongolian government based on conclusions of the conference, and are awaiting a response.