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In search of best practice protocol in the global mining industry

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22 April, 2020As trade unions around the world respond to the rapidly unfolding public health, economic and employment crisis, the respect for the ILO fundamental rights at work, including the right to refuse or shut down unsafe work is becoming urgent.

IndustriALL Global Union’s mining and diamonds, gems, ornaments and jewellery production has called for a consistent best practice approach that contain the fundamental elements –  consultation with unions, income security and respect for negotiated collective bargaining in the event of operations shut down or put in care and maintenance, compliance with country lockdown measures, the highest level of occupational health and safety, testing, screening and monitoring, reduced densification for underground and transported workers, screening contractors and visitors and keeping social distancing, quarantine measures for affected workers, appropriate travel and accommodation conditions for FIFO and DIDO workers, education and communication with workers and local communities etc.

IndustriALL affiliates have made joint statements at bilateral or tripartite levels:

  • USW and Teck Resources limited
  • Tripartite statement in Australia involving AWU, CFMEU Mining and Energy division and the Mineral Resources Council of Australia
  • In South Africa, the government, the Minerals Council of South Africa and Trade Unions have emerged with a ten point plan that emphasizes consistency of application and adherence to best practice protocols
  • In Canada, there has been a mining sector compilation of statement of commitment to best practice by the Mining Association of Canada’s member mining companies that includes almost all global mining companies operation in Canada

IndustriALL has taken a further step by inviting the CEOs of all the major global companies with which it has global framework agreements to share their responses to the global pandemic to ensure best practice protocol alignment. This invitation was extended to the other companies that enjoy a global dialogue relationship with IndustriALL.

Global mining companies fall into this category and IndustriALL has held several fruitful discussions with Anglo American and Glencore over their approaches to best practice application against Covid-19. Similar discussions have also been held with the International Council on Mining and Metals.

Some of the other mining companies, like Rio Tinto, have issued guidance on approaches to the pandemic.

The bilateral with Anglo American in particular found best practice alignment between Anglo American and IndustriALL Global Union’s approaches to the pandemic. Anglo American’s press release on the pandemic was further evidence of this alignment with our affiliates in Australia confirming Anglo’s lead in Australia on best practice approaches to the pandemic and the alignment of that approach with the union’s own determination of best practice.

In a message to IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches, Mark Cutifani, the Chief Executive of Anglo American, shared his company’s response to the pandemic:

“I wanted to write to assure you that we are continuing to manage our business, and in particular our Covid response efforts, in line with the spirit of our earlier discussions.  As you would expect, we are being uncompromising in protecting the health and safety of our employees, and are also focusing on protecting our workers’ livelihoods, and also the livelihoods of workers at suppliers and customers and of stakeholders in our host communities.”  

“I wish to thank you for sharing Anglo American’s comprehensive response to Covid-19 with the set of actions the company is taking in the various countries. Although I would say there’s always the need for improvement, I wish to commend the way the company is dealing with the situation,”

Valter Sanches said in his response.