3 December, 2020A recently completed union office building, next to remote diamond mines, will fast-track recruitment and organizing for IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL).
This is a dream come true for the union which has been tirelessly organizing mineworkers but facing difficulties in accessing the very remote diamond mine sites. At a strategic organizing meeting of the IndustriALL Diamond Global Network two years ago in Johannesburg, South Africa, IDUL explained how difficult it is to reach and organize the mineworkers because the mines are located at high altitude in the mountains.
The unions that were present at the network meeting listened to IDUL’s plight and a plan was made to build an office closer to the mines. An organizing team led by Glen Mpufane, the IndustriALL director for mining, diamond, gems, ornaments, jewellery and precious stones, South African unions, and IDUL organizers, visited the site during a recruitment drive at Storm Mountain Diamond mine in 2019. The construction, which was supported by IndustriALL and Belgian union ACV-CSC Transcom, then started.
“During the mission we concluded that it is strategic for the union to build the offices as this would reduce the need to commute from union offices in Maseru – about 190km away - to organize meetings with the workers. We also identified the visibility of the union in the mining area as a critical factor in unionizing the mineworkers.”
Now the union can organize and better coordinate its activities among the diamond mineworkers from the recently completed offices at Kao Village, Butha Buthe District.
The office is located next to Storm Mountain Diamond mine and a few kilometres from Letseng and Liqhobong mines. In recent months, the Lesotho mines have dug large stones worth millions of dollars. Letseng mine is considered the highest dollar per carat Kimberlite diamond operation in the world.
With resident organizers, the office will enable the union to recruit and organize more workers as well as provide better services to its members. The office will also be a place for workers to meet and get information about the union, about labour laws especially on workers’ rights and collective bargaining, operational health and safety, HIV and AIDS information as well as materials on the Covid-19 pandemic.Yves Toutenel, general secretary of ACV–CSC Transcom said:
“It is of course essential that in order to help members you need the necessary resources to be at your disposal. We are therefore very pleased that in collaboration with IndustriALL Global Union we have been able to support IDUL through a financial injection so that the union can grow and expand into the future.”
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary said:
“Even the Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped IDUL’s efforts to organize Lesotho’s mineworkers and has not deterred global workers’ solidarity which remains resilient as seen through initiatives to strengthen trade union power through organizing. We commend the ACV-CSC Transcom for providing support to IDUL so that the union can build power through organizing and shop steward capacity development programmes for the diamond mineworkers.
“We commend also IndustriALL affiliates in South Africa – the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and UASA the union – that are training shop stewards from IDUL through political schools and training programmes. This is an exemplary case how union strength on the ground and global solidarity can help workers improve their working conditions.”