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Workers protest against ‘return to apartheid’ at Rio Tinto in Namibia

17 August, 2015Workers at Rio Tinto’s Rössing uranium mine in Namibia organized a demonstration and delivered a petition to management stating that Rössing managers “want to make us to revert back to the apartheid system.”

Last Friday’s protest follows workers downing tools in July after Rio Tinto installed surveillance equipment in haul trucks. The workers are represented by IndustriALL affiliate Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN).

The Rössing workers’ petition says the surveillance equipment – including a voice recorder hidden behind the operator’s seat – was installed by management without consultation in violation of Rio Tinto’s code of conduct “The way we work”.

IndustriALL recently documented Rio Tinto’s systematic violation of its own code of conduct in Rio Tinto; the way it really works.

The petition also raises victimization of workers’ representatives, the company unilaterally changing conditions of work, and safety concerns.

Safety concerns are widespread among workers at Rio Tinto. This year there have already been worker fatalities at Rio Tinto in Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Madagascar and South Africa.

Rössing workers’ demands include the withdrawal of charges against workers that protested the installation of surveillance equipment, that management respect company policy, and that management treat workers with respect.

MUN also recently raised concern about the increasing use of precarious labour at Rössing. Precarious labour includes temporary, casual and contracted-out work that is often low-wage, low-benefit and insecure.

Workers at Rössing are preparing for the 7 October global day of action at Rio Tinto. 7 October is a day on which unions around the world mobilize against precarious work as part of IndustriALL’s STOP Precarious Work campaign. Unions around the world at Rio Tinto will call on Rio Tinto to stop using precarious work and instead provide safe jobs with good wages and benefits.