No more dirty diamonds

12.07.2017

IndustriALL affiliates from Europe, Sub Saharan Africa and India have launched a Global Diamond Network to fight exploitation and improve working conditions across the global value chain.

Union representatives met in Windhoek, Namibia 3 to 5 July to set up the Global Diamond Network (GDN), aiming to end human rights abuses and improve wages and working conditions in diamond mining.

The GDN network will work to secure jobs and fight for an end to precarious work and subcontracting. Setting minimum wages, retraining of workers in case of job losses, and fair deals during retrenchments would improve livelihoods for workers. Gender equality, sustainable economic development, and fair competition are some of the key demands.

The GDN plans to work with local and global organizations including companies involved in the diamond trade, as well as governments. It will campaign for the setting up of due diligence standards at local and global levels. In the absence of a world regulatory body on diamond mining, the global network decided to participate in credible voluntary certification systems such as the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) and to call on governments to regulate the industry.

Solidarity initiatives will also be carried out to promote responsible sourcing, that will boycott diamonds produced under conditions of human rights violations.

To achieve the GDN’s goals there will be campaigns for the certification of diamonds and for labour laws, collective bargaining agreements, and health and safety regulations that protected workers’ rights. The network will also promote information and knowledge sharing on organizing, capacity building, collective bargaining, women empowerment and leadership.

The need for the GDN comes from a past tainted with blood or conflict diamonds. Money from such diamonds has financed armies and rebel militias in civil wars that have killed close to four million people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Central Africa Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

There were also rights violations including rape, child and forced labour, environmental damage, and health risks to local communities because of diamond mining. In cases of armed conflict in the Central Africa Republic and human rights abuses by government security forces in Zimbabwe, international and humanitarian laws were violated.

Existing mechanisms have been largely ineffective in dealing with the abuses. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, some regulations from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation and even industry associations including the Responsible Jewelry Council have done little to stop abuses.

Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL mining director said:

The GDN will engage stakeholders, and jewelry brands and retailers, to ensure that the mining of diamonds also benefit workers, and that there were no human rights abuses.

Yves Toutenel, AVC-Transcom, Belgium and Beverley Murangi, Mineworkers Union of Namibia will co-chair the network.