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Unions take action against Glencore ahead of investor call

14 December, 2017Glencore workers and their unions took action across the world to highlight the company’s failure to respect human rights.

The actions took place around 10 December, to coincide with International Human Rights Day. The actions draw attention to the company’s rights violations as it seeks to establish a positive image for investors.

On 12 December, Glencore held an investor update call, to advise investors about the company’s strategies for growth. After recovering from a deep commodities crash in 2015, Glencore has bounced back in 2017, outperforming many of its peers.

But all of this comes at a terrible cost to the workers who mine and process the commodities that make Glencore a successful company.

To coincide with International Human Rights Day, unions around the world took action to demand that Glencore respect workers’ human rights. Highlights include:

  • The Mine Workers’ Union of Zambia took action to expose Glencore’s attempts to cut costs by casualizing the workforce.
  • In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), TUMEC took action following a meeting to discuss the global campaign and Glencore’s many poor practices.
  • In South Africa, NUMSA representatives from six operations organized actions to demand Glencore allow trade union access to the workplace as guaranteed by South African labour law, and to support Australian workers locked out by Glencore.
  • In Peru, the unions SUT and SITRAMINA leafleted at Antapaccay and in the nearby community of Espinar.  SITRAMINA held a press conference to highlight the denial of freedom of association at Antapaccay.
  • In Colombia, SINTRACARBON leafleted members at Cerrejón and Prodeco to raise awareness regarding their ongoing struggles with the company and to raise awareness about the international campaign
  • In Argentina, the Asociación Obrera Minera de Argentina (AOMA) leafleted members at El Aguilar and Alumbrera to raise awareness of the campaign.
  • In Bolivia, five workplace unions from Glencore subsidiaries Sinchi Wayra / Illapa came together to plan a common strategy for dealing with Glencore in Bolivia.
  • In Chile, the Federación Minera de Chile, which represents unions at Altonorte, Collahuasi and Lomas Bayas, expressed support for the campaign.
  • In Canada, Unifor representatives braved a snow storm to send a message to the company.
  • The executive of Industri Energi in Norway sent a solidarity message.
  • In Australia, members of the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division marched on Glencore’s Brisbane office to protest against the company’s ongoing lockout of workers at the Oaky North mine. On Christmas day, the workers will have been locked out for 150 days.
  • In Germany, with support from IG Metall, the works council at Glencore discussed the campaign and circulated the campaign leaflet.
  • Staff in the IndustriALL office in Geneva also sent their support.

In the investor call, Glencore announced that it intends to double its cobalt production over the next few years. Cobalt is an essential component of the batteries used by smart phones and electric vehicles, and the company intends to tie in deals with major auto and electronics manufacturers – including Volkswagen, Tesla and Apple - to supply cobalt.

Glencore won the concession to mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo after making a US $45 million loan to a fixer, as exposed in the Paradise Papers.

The company aggressively exploits commodities, and is a leading producer of copper, cobalt, nickel, zinc and thermal coal. CEO Ivan Glasenberg highlighted the value for money of Glencore’s “low cost assets", and praised the company’s “capital efficient growth”.

Assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

“Glencore wants to convince investors that it has a bright future. But Glencore’s abuse of the human rights of its workers, at sites around the world, are a serious liability that will cause ongoing labour conflict.

“IndustriALL and our affiliates will campaign until Glencore respects workers’ rights and begins to address the many serious issues raised by workers and their communities.”