Rio Tinto faces day of defiance by thousands of workers
Mining giant Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO) will face protests around the world on 7 October 2014 in a coordinated day of defiance by thousands of its employees.
The global protests come on the heels of a spate of fatalities at a worksite in Indonesia where Rio Tinto has a major investment.
Workers from Rio Tinto sites in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America will be demanding safer workplaces, secure jobs and respect for workers’ rights in a campaign organized by Industriall Global Union.
Events will include rallies, stop work meetings and other worksite actions.
Australian union CFMEU will launch a report into Rio Tinto’s insecure work practices – which the company disguises under the banner of “Direct Engagement”. The report exposes the company’s strategy to lock out unions.
IndustriALL, which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries, has a global network of mining affiliates with members at Rio Tinto. Assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, states:
“For far too long, Rio Tinto has systematically put profits before people, sometimes with fatal consequences. Workers are saying enough is enough. The protests on 7 October are part of IndustriALL’s on-going campaign to demand a new era at Rio Tinto.”
Rio Tinto, which has a market value of US$ 100 billion, is increasingly turning to contract and subcontracted workers to cut costs. At its Madagascar Minerals operation, there are double the numbers of contract workers as permanent staff. In Australia, Rio Tinto has been attacked for sacking fulltime workers on mass but keeping on casual or contract workers at the Hail Creek mine in Queensland.
Last month, five miners were killed in two separate fatal incidents at the Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia where Rio Tinto has the rights to 40% of production above a certain level. Three out of the four miners who died in the second incident were subcontracted workers. The deaths follow the loss of 35 lives at the mine last year alone.
The 7 October action against Rio Tinto is taking place to coincide with the World Day for Decent Work, when unions around the globe mobilize against precarious work – jobs that are temporary, casual, contracted-out and often low-wage, low-benefit, unsafe and insecure.