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IndustriALL workshop boosts collective bargaining skills in Madagascar

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4 October, 2018IndustriALL Global Union continued its trade union building initiative in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar, with a collective bargaining workshop for its Rio Tinto QMM-based affiliates, Sendika Kristanina Malagasy (Sekrima) and Syndicalisme et Vie des Sociétés (SVS) on 26-27 September 2018. 

The workshop follows a strained relationship between the unions and the local management and comes on the eve of the commencement of collective bargaining at the ilmenite operations. 

The workshop was run together with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) of South Africa, who provided collective bargaining expertise to about 16 shop stewards from the two affiliates. Led by Thomas Ketsise, the production unit head at NUM, and Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL’s director of mining, came amidst growing frustration by the local unions at what they consider as local management’s increasing hostile attitude towards unions. 

This hostile attitude, the unions claim, manifests in the daily industrial relationship experience of workers and contractors, and they regard this attitude as being at odds with Rio Tinto and IndustriALL’s global employee relations’ principles. 

Eugene Chretien, regional secretary of SVS, said:

“The training allowed participants to understand the power of QMM as a Rio Tinto Subsidiary and that they need to be better prepared before collective negotiations.”

Anthony Randrianandrasana is regional president of Sekrima, the most representative union for QMM’s direct workforce. He said:

“This is the first training for the newly elected shop stewards. The knowledge they gained from the trainings gave them the technical skills and confidence to enter into collective negotiation."

The workshop follows the recent mission in early February 2018 by IndustriALL and a senior-level delegation from Rio Tinto led by Michael Gavin, Rio Tinto’s head of global employee relations. The joint mission was in response to industrial relations challenges at the operation and to set in motion processes to address them. A subsequent strike by the union over unfulfilled collective bargaining commitments by management underscored how fractured the relations were.

The decision to include the NUM follows the union’s recent signing of a collective bargaining agreement at Rio Tinto’s Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa, where the union is organized. Rio Tinto’s QMM and RBM operations mine the same mineral, ilmenite, using the same mining methods.

The workshop was held as part of the Sub-Sahara union building project, supported by Swedish union donor organization Union to Union.