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IndustriALL mining conference focuses on workers' rights and sustainable development

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22 October, 2014IndustriALL Global Union affiliates have committed to putting human rights at the heart of sustainable development in the mining industry, following a conference in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.

The two-day meeting, which took place on 20 and 21 October,  was organized by IndustriALL and FES, the German political foundation. It brought together IndustriALL mining affiliates from Mongolia, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Phillipines, Australia and South Africa.

The conference tackled the labour agenda for socially sustainable mining in the global south. It comes on the back of a prolongued attack by major mining multinational companies, including Rio Tinto, on the human rights of workers, trade unions, communities, indigenious people, and the degradation and pollution of the environment.

Participants committed to work towards human rights-based sustainable development in the mining industry, as well as regional cooperation and collaboration between IndustriALL affiliates, NGOs and community based organizations.

Andrew Vickers, Chairman of IndustriALL’s mining sector and general secretary of Australian mining union, CFMEU, said: “The conference provided regional union affiliates, as well as representatives from NGOs and government agencies, with an opportunity to share views on the identification of problems associated with sustainable development and labour issues in the region, and to start developing strategies to address the problems.  It also provided participants with an insight into ILO Convention 176 and the processes required for ratification, as well the major issues of concern confronting trade unions and civil society in the host country Mongolia.”

It is IndustriALL’s third event in the sustainable development conference series, which seeks to expose the misrepresentation by major mining companies in their sustainable development reports and, in the process, force them to address genuine concerns about workers, communities and the environment.

As part of its global corporate campaign against Rio Tinto, IndustriALL has published a report, which contests the claims the company makes in its own sustainable development report.

Irrefutable evidence of gross corporate behaviour and contempt for the laws of Mongolia by Rio Tinto emerged at the conference:

“Rio Tinto is guilty of corporate dictatorship as opposed to corporate behaviour,” said Sukhbaatar Ganbold, President of IndustriALL Mongolia affiliate, MEGM. “The conditions for workers at Rio Tinto’s Oyi Tolgoi operation resemble a civil prison, where social and cultural activities do not exist.”

Held on the eve of the Rio Tinto Global Campaign Network meeting in Ulan Bator, the meeting was addressed by the President of the Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions (CMTU), Mr Kh Amgalanbataar, The President of the Federation of Energy, Geology and Mining Workers Union Trade Unions, Mr. S. Ganbold(MEGM), the Honourary President of CMTU and a Member of the Mongolian Parliament, Mr S. Ganbataar, FES Mongolia Country Director, Ms Ch. Oyungerel, and The General Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Energy and Mining Union, Andrew Vickers. The keynote address was delivered by Kh. Lhagvabataar, Specialist in the Mining Division of the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia.

Also in attendance was Joe Drexler from the USW Canada and Claude Kabembe, Executice Director of Southern Africa Resources Watch, an NGO from South Africa.