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Rio Tinto voted worst company linked to Olympics

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23 July, 2012Rio Tinto was awarded the gold medal on Friday 20 July in London, after being voted the worst company linked to the London Olympics.

IndustriALL Global Union joined thousands of activists around the world to vote for Rio Tinto as the worst company linked to the London Olympics in the Greenwash awards, as the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) awarded certification to Rio Tinto on 13 July, attesting to the company’s highest ethical, social, and environmental standards.

In a mock awards ceremony held in Trafalgar Square, IndustriALL joined the London Mining Network and other NGOs, demonstrating the damaging behaviour of Rio Tinto around the world on its workers’ rights, local communities, and the environment. An Olympic-style medals podium was erected with Rio Tinto, followed in second place by BP, and third Dow Chemicals. Green slime was poured over the heads of those symbolically receiving the awards for the companies.

However the demonstration ended in catastrophe as London’s police came and arrested six people they thought to be the event organizers. Ironically, the arrests were made as the demonstrators were wiping up the custard. The basis of the arrests was “criminal damage” caused by the custard on Trafalgar Square, but it had all been completely cleaned before the 25 police officers left with the six arrested demonstrators.

Sadly this illustrates the extent to which the UK, and London, has been turned into a police state to defend corporate interests, especially as the Olympics approaches.

It is better to have blood on your hands than custard on your hands in 2012 London,

stated Brian Kohler, IndustriALL’s Director for Health, Safety and Sustainability, representing IndustriALL at the protest.

Before the police interference, Kohler addressed the demo,

On behalf of the 50 million workers represented by IndustriAll Global Union I would like to thank the organizers for this entirely just and well deserved recognition of Rio Tinto for its long history of contempt for labour rights, environmental destruction (including in the communities that source the metals that go into the medals), and general opposition to anything that could be defined as sustainable,

Kohler said

The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) is an organization of companies in the industry and includes Rio Tinto as a founding member. The first certification given to a mining company comes at a dubious time, just days before the start of the London Olympics, where pressure is building against Rio Tinto’s role in providing the metals for the athletes’ medals. 

With the London Olympics organizers coming under attack for choosing Rio Tinto without following service provider protocols for auditing and certification, the RJC has clearly rushed through the process and conveniently made Rio Tinto the first mining company to receive this recognition. The RJC has lost all credibility through this action. 

One of IndustriALL’s predecessor organizations, the ICEM, withdrew from the RJC because of its corrupt pro-industry practices.