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15 December, 2022As part of the implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in May 2021, IndustriALL continues to develop sound industrial relations across the global operations of mining giant AngloAmerican.
Around 30 participants from unions affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union in Australia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Brazil and Zimbabwe met on 23-24 November 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Before a session with the company management, the global network discussed strategies to improve industrial relations at AngloAmerican’s operations and to further strengthen the dialogue between the multinational and IndustriALL.
The global dialogue mechanism takes place at least twice a year to ensure monitoring of workers’ effective access to fundamental rights. Workers’ concerns were raised on various issues, including shift systems, which in countries like Botswana, flout the laws that protect workers against long working hours.
Unions reported that pregnant women and mothers of newly born babies who worked offshore in Namibia were disadvantaged, and in some instances suffered the trauma of leaving their babies at home for 28 days to work offshore.
On occupational health and safety and gender responsiveness, unions said AngloAmerican must provide appropriate personal protective equipment for pregnant women. Wearing trousers and gear that don’t fit makes it difficult to use toilet facilities, forcing women workers to undress each time they use the toilets. Unions argued that the company should work with unions when dealing with workplace accidents.
The meeting deliberated on living wages, with the Zimbabwe Union of Mine Workers saying the wages were lower for subcontracted workers.
When it comes to new technologies introduced, unions reported that training should be provided to enable a smooth migration from older technologies. The training should be based in workplaces.
Discussions were conducted on the importance of IRMA audits, as their level of social responsibility including workers’ rights, human rights and environmental responsibility, is higher than other mining standards. IRMA, which is currently auditing Unki mine in Zimbabwe, emphasizes business integrity and planning for positive legacies for mining companies.
The meeting noted that AngloAmerican has exited coal in countries like South Africa, while it maintains operations in Australia. In his presentation, Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL mining director, portrayed the transformation in the mining industry and acknowledged the importance of AngloAmerican’s Just Transition strategies, including the creation of sustainable jobs.
"This dialogue constitutes an important mechanism and model to fill the gap of trust in global mining industry. Building workers’ power through our structures, getting recognition from multinational companies and developing industrial relations for continuous improvement of working conditions are important pillars of our strategy and action. Therefore, enhancing our cooperation with AngloAmerican is in the interests of our affiliates and fellow miners on the ground.”
said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary