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Unions from around the globe recommit to clean up Rio Tinto

7 October, 2016Today, the World Day of Decent Work, leaders of unions at all major Rio Tinto operations in 13 countries sent a letter to Rio Tinto’s CEO calling for a limit on Rio Tinto’s use of precarious work and improved conditions for their precarious workers.

Unions from around the world have recommitted to a global campaign demanding mining and metals giant Rio Tinto to clean up its bad practices. The conclusion was reached during the IndustriALL Global Union 2nd Congress in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Unions at Rio Tinto operations from all regions of the globe met at Congress. There were some positive reports, including new labour agreements reached without disputes, management not opposing union organizing in some locations, and the company seeking dialog with unions in a number of countries for the first time in decades, but in many cases unions reported that local Rio Tinto management continues to abuse workers and their unions.

AMWU of Australia and FIM-CSN of Canada reported that Rio Tinto is implementing its zero fatality policy by blaming and disciplining workers rather than reducing hazards at work. Workers are now on strike at Rio Tinto’s 40 per cent owned Grasberg mine in Indonesia, where three workers have been killed in three separate workplace incidents this year.

Canadian union Unifor said Rio Tinto is systematically violating the collective bargaining agreement at its aluminum smelter in Kitimat and members have agreed to a special assessment to fund arbitrations to defend the agreement.

Unions from Africa spoke of increases in Rio Tinto’s use of precarious workers and the company’s failure to take responsibility for violations of these workers’ rights. Rio Tinto’s precarious workers in Madagascar suffer from poverty wages and a lack of employment security.

Hundreds of Congress delegates posed for photos with signs protesting Rio Tinto’s increasing reliance on precarious work.

“IndustriALL strongly believes in dialogue with leading multinational corporations and welcomes Rio Tinto’s stated commitment to a new relationship with unions,” says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan.

“However unions at Rio Tinto gave us a clear mandate: as our Congress motto says, we must fight forward at Rio Tinto until the company backs its words with real change at the worksites.”