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Unions at Rio Tinto gear up for global day of action

14 August, 2014Union leaders from seven countries at mining giant Rio Tinto came together at the United Steelworkers Convention this week to discuss plans for their upcoming global day of action.

Representatives from trade unions at Rio Tinto in Australia, Canada, France, Indonesia, South Africa, the UK and the US met at the convention in Las Vegas. They form part of the global network of unions at Rio Tinto, which earlier this year launched a global campaign against the company. They were joined at the meeting by union leadership from Germany and IndustriALL Global Union.

Participants discussed plans for their global day of action against Rio Tinto on 7 October, when IndustriALL affiliates around the world will take action to demand decent work as part of the STOP Precarious Work campaign.

The Rio Tinto Global Union Network chose 7 October to hold their global day of action because the billion-dollar company is increasingly introducing precarious forms of work at its operations around the globe.

For instance, the Steelworkers union at Rio Tinto subsidiary Kennecott in Utah, USA reported that Rio Tinto has adopted the practice of reducing the workforce through attrition and then replacing the retiring workers with contractors.

“Unions at Rio Tinto are coming together like never before to demand decent work. We will send that message loud and clear on 7 October,” stated IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Ozkan.

The unions agreed at the meeting on the need for Rio Tinto to change its approach to unions and recognize them as a key stakeholder worthy of respect. Until that happens, “We want to poke them in the eye and kick them in the shins,” stated CFMEU Mining and Energy General Secretary Andrew Vickers, who is also the IndustriALL mining section Chairman.