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Glencore Xstrata urged to halt anti-union practices in Peru

23 January, 2014Mining giant Glencore Xstrata has been asked to intervene ensure the reinstatement of workers fired for forming at union at its subsidiary in Peru as well as to take steps to mitigate the chilling effect caused by the dismissals.

Says IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina: “Mega corporations like the Swiss-based Glencore Xstrata are increasingly distant from the operations they own and manage, many of which are in developing countries where weak governance gives companies plenty of opportunities for dubious dealings.”

The Compañia Minera de Antapaccay, near Cusco in Peru, is good example. The company has resorted to unfair dismissals, coercion and interference in union affairs in order to drive home its anti-union message. The fact that the company has done little to cover up its duplicity has not make its actions any less devastating.

When Xstrata took over the company, it massively reclassified 450 technicians as ‘employees of confidence’ for no other reason than to limit their right to organize and bargain collectively and to make it easier to fire them.  Had the reclassification been genuine, it would mean that all 450 technicians were reporting directly to the boss on substantive issues relating to the core business of the company: Unimaginable!

Then when a group of employees decided last month to form the Sindicato de Trabajadores Funcionarios de la Compañía Minera de Antapaccay in response to the company’s unfair treatment, the company dismissed them all, saying simply that it was ‘withdrawing its confidence’. The fact that workers with an unblemished employment record stretching back in some cases over thirty years were dismissed two days after forming a union leaves no room for doubt about the company’s true motives. But to drive home the point, management then offered to reinstate them on condition they quit the union.

Having successfully reduced the number of union members, the company then concocted a letter in their name asking for the union to be deregistered. IndustriALL has urged the labour authorities not to be duped: after all, how likely is it that former union members would make such a request – and in the form of a joint seven-page typed letter citing four different pieces of legislation, no less!

Concludes Jyrki Raina: “To CEO Ivan Glasenberg,  Cusco in Peru may seem far removed from the company headquarters in Baar in Switzerland. But Glencore Xstrata must now roll up its sleeves and intervene to ensure that the internationally-recognized rights of Peruvian workers are upheld”.