The Alternative Mining Indaba marches for sustainable mining

Thembinkosi Dhlamini, Kemal Özkan and Claude Kabemba discuss labour and community rights.

Glen Mpufane and Billy Mawasha talk about collaborations between mining companies and unions.

John Peter Amewu, Minister of Lands and natural resources, Ghana

The mining industry must respect labour and community rights: IndustriALL

12.02.2018

IndustriALL Global Union delivered this message at the African Mining Indaba, held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 5 to 8 February 2018.

The Indaba has brought investors, mining companies, governments and other stakeholders from around the world together in the city for the last 20 years. For the first time, this year’s event included a Sustainable Development Day with the motto “Transforming the industry to make mining work for the people”.

This resonates with last years’ theme – “Leaving no one Behind” - suggesting that a consensus is developing between labour, civil society, industry and governments about how dialogue is fundamental to addressing the industry’s pressing challenges.

Across town, the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) was held with the theme of “Making Natural Resources Work for the People: Towards Just Legal, Policy and Institutional Reforms”. The AMI was made up of 600 members from civil society organizations, including faith-based, community-based, Pan African networks, labour, women, human rights activists, the media and students.

In a petition to mining companies and governments, the AMI called for the interests of communities affected by mining to be put before profit. This could be done through public ownership that ensures sustainability and equity in mining. Policy reforms should end exploitation by removing unjust laws, and replace the use of force with dialogue. Corruption should be targeted, as it is common for corrupt mining companies to work with elites and exclude communities.

At the AMI there were also calls for governments to adopt the African Mining Vision which calls for: “A sustainable and well-governed mining sector that effectively garners and deploys resource rents and that is safe, healthy, gender and ethnically inclusive, environmentally friendly, socially responsible and appreciated by surrounding communities”.

They called for the recognition of artisanal and small-scale miners by including them in government policies and legislation. Dialogue between workers and communities with governments and mining companies was also demanded.

IndustriALL was represented at both events. As a major stakeholder, IndustriALL was invited to participate in different panels and in the closing session of the African Mining Indaba.

Speaking on a panel on labour and community rights, IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan, emphasized workers’ rights and health and safety.

“Recognizing and respecting workers’ rights is key. This includes the right to join a trade union, and the protection of collective bargaining agreements.

“Fundamental health and safety rights, to know, to refuse and to participate, must be the basis. Workers are experts on what goes on at their workplaces. Therefore, they should be involved in health and safety.”

“We must also achieve the international standards in Convention 176 on Safety and Health in the mines and other ILO recommendations and ratifications”.

He added that building trust between mining companies, trade unions and communities and exercising due diligence were important.

On the sidelines of the both Indabas, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, to which IndustriALL is a key stakeholder representing labour, was launched. IRMA has developed a standard for responsible mining, which includes responsible sourcing along the supply chain.