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Unions welcome revival of IndustriALL’s campaign against Glencore

31 October, 2022IndustriALL Democratic Republic of the Congo council discussed Glencore’s broken promises to mineworkers at a meeting on 21 October. According to IndustriALL affiliates, Glencore has made no efforts to improve working conditions at its mining operations in the country. 

The union network meeting was held against the backdrop of cobalt’s role in the low carbon energy transition and the DRC’s strategic role in the battery supply chain. 

Participants observed the difference in Glencore South Africa operations in comparison to its behaviour in the DRC, mentioning industrial relations, stakeholder engagement, tripartite dialogue, the advancement of women employment and just transition. 

Conditions of mineworkers at Glencore’s operations, including surrounding communities and the environment, do not reflect the value attached to the minerals that workers produce ; for example the commodities boom, as reflected in Glencore’s balance profits. 

The findings of The Road to Ruin? – Electric vehicles and workers’ rights abuses DRC’s industrial cobalt mines by corporate watchdog Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) and Centre d’Aide Juridico-Judiciaire (CAJJ), a Congolese legal aid centre specializing in labour rights, mirror IndustriALL’s report after a mission to the DRC in 2018. 

“It is unacceptable that large scale mining is involved, with almost impunity, in these large scale abuses of mineworkers’ rights. The situation has not improved since IndustriALL’s mission in 2018. There is still no local dialogue with management, even global dialogue, although not institutionalized with IndustriALL, continues unsystematically, ”

says Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL mining director. 

According to the workers, Glencore has ignored concerns about the need for accountability and transparency raised at their national network meeting in June 2021. 

Workers said that “it is not easy to be in contact with Glencore unless it is a legislative requirement or a collective bargaining agreement requirement. There has been no dialogue since 2021 with Glencore, except for collective bargaining negotiations”. 

“Due diligence in the supply chain requires stakeholder consultation. It is a travesty that trade unions, the most organized formation of civil society, are not consulted in ensuring due diligence in the production of the minerals in the DRC, critical for the low carbon energy transition” 

says Glen Mpufane.

In March 2018, IndustriALL issued a warning to the auto sector to ensure the respect of workers’ rights in the DRC.
Union leaders voiced their anger at Glencore’s absence of a strategy to address the gender employment gap and to advance the meaningful employment of women, to reduce reliance on expats at high-level job categories, and to implement a skills transition programme. 

The meeting was supported by German FES. Affiliates expressed appreciation to IndustriALL and the local FES office for continued support and solidarity, and for the implementation of the project on Decent work in battery supply chains: Steps towards responsible cobalt mining in the DRC.