On 15 April, the day before Rio Tinto’s AGM, IndustriALL Global Union organized a pre-AGM calling on investors to question the mining giant’s practices that expose the company and its stakeholders to financial, reputational, legal, human rights and operational risks.
The panel was chaired by Business and Human Rights, and the large audience made up of investors and NGOs listened to a number of speakers who told of how Rio Tinto really works.
Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL said in his opening statement:
Rio Tinto is an industry leader and portrays itself as socially responsible, but in a field of ruthless multinational mining firms, Rio Tinto stands out as exceptionally bad.
Rio Tinto needs to live up to the reputation it paints for itself, and for its actions to match its words.
Ron Thomas from United Steelworkers in Labrador City, Canada told of deteriorating relations with Rio Tinto, where so far 2,300 grievances have been referred to arbitration.
“Until now Rio Tinto has refused any dialogue with the union. When they found out I was going here, then they called our first meeting.”
“I’m asking Rio Tinto to treat our members with respect, to stop using contract workers and put our members back to work. Something needs to change. They can’t be allowed to run it our hometown into the ground.”
In an emotional speech Vansler Standing Fox, San Carlos Apache Tribe member opposed Rio Tinto’s planned development of a copper mine on land that is sacred to Native Americans.
“The bill which gave Rio Tinto this land was sneaked through congress. Now people have to stand up and stop this; if there is no water, there will be no jobs, and subsequently no life.”
Lucy Graham, Business and Human Rights Legal Advisor, Amnesty International, talked of corporate crimes and abuses at the Myanmar copper mine, the Monywa project.
Liz Umlas, senior adviser on capital strategies IndustriALL, said.
“We have heard from affected parties talking of very poor behaviour from a company who call themselves a leader.”
IndustriALL Global Union’s report “Rio Tinto: The way it really works”, provides more info on Rio Tinto’s controversial practices and the risks it entails for the company. The report is available to download here www.industriall-union.org/riotinto