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IndustriALL pushes for workers’ rights in diamond sector

25 June, 2018IndustriALL Global Union, in line with its approach to multi-stakeholder initiatives in confronting supply chain challenges, continues to raise workers’ rights issues to the stakeholders of the Kimberley Process (KP).

The KP was established in 2000 in Kimberley, South Africa by representatives of the governments of 23 major diamond producing and trading countries, the global diamond industry and civil society. It was a result of growing international pressure against the trade in conflict diamonds and the issuing of several diamond sanction resolutions by the United Nations Security Council. Two years later the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was launched, which established requirements for controlling rough diamond production and trade.

However, the KP has been heavily criticized, because the definition of conflict diamonds does not cover diamonds that are mined or traded in circumstances involving human rights abuses.

The IndustriALL diamond global network brings together unions from across the supply chain of the diamond industry, from mining to retail. In its inaugural meeting in Windhoek, Namibia on 3-5 July 2017, the diamond global network recognized the major challenges confronting the global diamond industry and its value chain.

For the first time, the IndustriALL network, as voice of diamond workers, attended the Kimberley Process (KP) intersessional meeting, held on 18-22 June in Antwerp, Belgium, to push for reforms to protect workers’ rights. The meeting was chaired by the European Union and hosted by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. Antwerp is the diamond trading and polishing capital of the world.

IndustriALL, with the assistance of Belgian affiliates ACV-Transcom and ABVV, organized a side event at the meeting. The event was attended by government representatives of Lebanon, Cameroon, Togo, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, and Yves Toutenel, the general sector manager diamond ACV-Transcom, and Myriam Dillen ACV-Transcom advisor.

The event highlighted workers’ issues, calling for the reform of the KP to address human rights abuses. The KP currently has no mandate to address human rights abuses and risks in the diamond supply chain, undermining the relevance of the certification and due diligence requirements of the KPCS. In addition, there are calls to review the governance architecture of the KP to give greater weight to civil society participation.

Yves Toutenel, chair of the diamond global network, said:

“While the global diamond industry is under greater pressure to improve its social and environmental performance, workers face challenges of job security, respect for trade union rights and achieving the decent work agenda”.

Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director of mining, diamond, gems and ornaments and jewellery production said:

“As the global network considers a formal application to the Kimberley process by IndustriALL Gobal Union, it remains committed to working with local and global NGOs, community-based organizations, companies in the diamond supply chain and governments, to champion the reform agenda of the Kimberley Process to ensure workers’ rights are defended”.