A profile of Rio Tinto's Activities in Africa

Rio Tinto in Africa, Global Citizen or Corporate Shame?

Jyrki Raina FPA

Jyrki Raina at the Foreign Press Association in London

A profile of Rio Tinto's Activities in Africa Jyrki Raina FPA

New global labour force, IndustriALL Global Union, targets mining giant Rio Tinto

26.06.2012

One week after its creation, IndustriALL Global Union announced its intention to shine a light on Rio Tinto’s unethical behavior around the world, starting with the release of a report on the company’s operations in Africa.

 

Rio Tinto in Africa

Speaking to journalists at the Foreign Press Association in London today, 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 today by IndustriALL.

“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.

IndustriALL – a new global force

IndustriALL Global Union was founded at its inaugural Congress last week in Copenhagen when three international union bodies came together to form a new global union force representing 50 million workers in 140 countries across the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors around the globe.

“IndustriALL will be in the forefront defending and fighting for the voice of the people to be heard everywhere. To make sure this voice is heard, loud and clear, we will be developing a strong new campaigning capacity, using all available tools,” 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.

“Global capital is an immense force, but its power must be tempered by the power of people acting together,” said Raina.

IndustriALL on Rio Tinto

“Rio Tinto earns $15 billion per year with the bulk of its operations in Iron Ore, Aluminium, Copper, Diamonds and Energy. Too much of Rio Tinto’s profits are built on a record of environmental damage, exploitative labour practices and human rights abuses,” he argued.

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.

“And 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,” said Raina.

IndustriALL - campaigning for human and worker rights

“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.

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 and report globally on what is happening on the ground in the company's operations.

Unions such as the Australian the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the USW in North America, and the National Union of Miners (NUM) in South Africa will play a crucial role in both shining the light, but also in taking different forms of action with IndustriALL against the company.

Follow the link to read Raina's speech to the FPA.

Follow the link to see Rio Tinto in Africa: Global citiuen or corporate shame?

IndustriALL Global Union was founded in Copenhagen on 19 June 2012. The new organization brings together affiliates of the former global union federations: International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF), International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) and International Textiles Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF).

IndustriALL Global Union represents workers in a wide range of sectors from extraction of oil and gas, mining, generation and distribution of electric power, to manufacturing of metals and metal products, shipbuilding, automotive, aerospace, mechanical engineering, electronics, chemicals, rubber, pulp and paper, building materials, textiles, garments, leather and footwear and environmental services.

For more go to: www.industriall-union.org