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Congo mining unions unite at Glencore

15 November, 2018Building a membership base through recruiting and organizing is a key strategy for strengthening union power at Glencore in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

This is the resolution of a meeting which took place on 13-14 November, in Kolwezi, Lualaba Province. The resolution commits the unions to an organizing target to be met before the next Glencore global network meeting in 2019.

Eighteen representatives, including general secretaries, from four IndustriALL Global Union affiliates CSC, OTUC, TUMEC and UNTC, organizing in the mining sector, formed the IndustriALL Glencore national network which will include unions from the petroleum sector. A provincial network already exists. The meeting agreed that the unions could negotiate with the global mining multinational better as a unified force and through the networks.

The meeting is part of a series of interventions by IndustriALL in the DRC as part of a global campaign to improve working conditions of mine workers at Glencore operations around the world. A joint mission between Glencore and IndustriALL to the DRC, sanctioned by Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg and set to take place early in 2019, is part of these series of interventions to set the course of industrial relations in the DRC on the right path.

The unions agreed to democratize through workers’ control and promote accountability of the union leadership to their members. It was emphasized that the unions should be active at provincial and local levels to ensure that workplace issues were prioritized. Further, the unions committed to building the capacity of leaders and members through worker education and training, using collective bargaining as an instrument to improve workers’ welfare, and developing better financial systems to make unions sustainable.

The unions agreed to strengthen and coordinate their activities including information sharing. Research will be carried out on how the legal system can be used to improve industrial relations and on how to engage with the new mining code adopted by the government of the DRC, despite protestations by the mining industry. Exchange visits will also be made with other mining affiliates in the Sub Saharan Africa region.

Says Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director for mining:

“Unions must work hard to build trade union power in the DRC. It is through this power, which comes from having more members in a union, that unions can stand up against multinational corporations. With power, trade unions can carry the dreams of the workers, and with it the potential to transform society.”