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No return on copper for BHP workers in Chile

4 November, 2021Chile is the world’s largest copper producer, yet the country’s laws and policies have for decades been at the service of multinational corporations, resulting in high levels of inequality. Moreover, at BHP a staggering 61 per cent of workers are contract workers, which in Chile means being treated as a second-class worker.

On 26 October, Chilean BHP unions came together in an online workshop organized by IndustriALL Global Union to explore issues of human rights due diligence in global supply chains, as well as occupational health and safety.

According to IndustriALL mining director Glen Mpufane, copper is the most critical metal for global economies and is much in demand for the energy transition.

“As a result, BHP shareholders enjoy attractive returns, but what are the returns for workers, communities, and the country as a whole,”

asked Mpufane.

According to BHP unions, the only way to seek redress for rights violations is through the courts. This approach fails to consider human rights’ due diligence mechanisms, like the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which provide a blueprint for responsible business conduct.

“These mechanisms should be used to the full to hold BHP to account. Environmental, social and governance issues are today seen as the biggest risk to the mining industry. BHP can no longer evade these issues. It must show respect for workers, communities, and the country as a whole,”

said Mpufane.

The workshop, which was organized as part of an FES project, also addressed the issue of health and safety and the campaign for the ratification of ILO C176 on health and safety in mines.

Industriall is conducting a global campaign against BHP against a background of a constant rebuttal of calls by workers for BHP to enter into social dialogue with IndustriALL to address its poor record of ill treatment of workers, communities and environmental degradation across its global operations.