MAC: Mines and Communities

Report: Rio Tinto - World leader in insecure work

Published by MAC on 2014-10-07
Source: CFMEU, The Southland Times, United Steelworkers (USW)

Global mining unions took part in a "Global Day of Action" focussing on Rio Tinto's "anti-union, anti-worker practices".

A report was launched, focussing on the company's 'direct engagement' management strategy, which can be downloaded here

More information on global actions against Rio Tinto and at Rio Tinto campaign page.

Rio Tinto: World leader in insecure work

Global Day of Action

CFMEU - Mining and Energy Division

7 October 2014

In a field of tough, profit-driven mining multinationals, Rio Tinto stands out as a bad employer and corporate citizen in Australia and around the world. Today we join unions around the world to put a spotlight on the anti-union, anti-worker practices of the mining multinational.

To mark the day a new report which exposes the anti union philosophy behind Rio Tinto's 'direct engagement' management strategy is to be launched.

Report author Bradon Ellem argues that the long-held policy sounds innocent but is really code for a ruthless effort to exclude unions from playing a meaningful role in its workplaces.

"It is important to understand the real nature of ‘direct engagement' because of the influence that Rio has over other companies and, often, over government labour relations policies," said Mr Ellem, Professor of Employment Relations at Sydney University.

CFMEU Mining and Energy General Secretary Andrew Vickers said "Rio Tinto has an appalling record on labour rights, environmental damage, dislocation of indigenous people and anti-union practices,"

"They are leading the push towards casual and insecure employment in Australian mines - a key driver of unfair and unsafe work practices.

"Despite the ‘direct engagement' jargon, the reality is that Rio Tinto is a large, powerful employer and no individual worker has a hope of engaging equally with them. Time and again we see that this results in bullying, unfair sackings and punishing rosters.

"Rio Tinto employees in Australia and worldwide deserve the protection that collective representation can bring them."

Union worried by Tiwai smelter injuries

Evan Harding

The Southland Times

7 October 2014

Union members who work at the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter are concerned by the number of employees being injured at the plant, their organiser says.

About 40 smelter union members attended a two-hour stopwork meeting in Invercargill yesterday as part of a "global day of action against smelter owners Rio Tinto".

EPMU union's organiser for the Tiwai workers, Trevor Hobbs, said about 40 people attended the meeting and he was extremely surprised at the workers collective concern over the number of injuries happening at the smelter.

He believed up to six workers were medically retired from the smelter each year because of injuries suffered on the job. They were mainly arm and shoulder injuries, he said.

Hobbs said he tried to set up a meeting between the smelter general manager, ACC, Worksafe New Zealand and health and safety representatives last year to discuss the issue, but nothing came of it.

"As far as I am concerned there are job tasks down there that should be identified as significant hazards, and no-one wants to know about it. Now it's developed to the situation where workers are being medically retired."

In the potline and rodding room departments - where the work was hard and physical - was where most injuries happened, he said.

Staff redundancies had aggravated the issue because workers were not being rotated between job tasks as often as previously.

The smelter's union member workers wanted NZAS and Rio Tinto to start working constructively with the union to improve conditions.

Tiwai general manager Gretta Stephens said NZAS took the health and safe of their employees very seriously and they worked continuously to eliminate hazards in the workplace.

NZAS was seen as setting a benchmark for industrial safety in New Zealand, she said.

The smelter had spent millions of dollars over the past 20 years to eliminate health and safety risks, engaging the best experts in the field to consult and advise, she said.

Steelworkers Join Global Days of Action Against Rio Tinto

United Steelworkers (USW) press release

7 October 2014

TORONTO - The United Steelworkers (USW) is joining unions around the world today to demand an end to mining giant Rio Tinto's attempts to destroy good jobs and exploit workers and communities.

The USW is joining trade unions in several countries in a day of action co-ordinated by IndustriALL Global Union, which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries.

Trade unions at Rio Tinto's global operations are sending a strong message to local managers and to the company's CEO, demanding safer workplaces, secure jobs and respect for workers' rights.

The USW represents over 6,000 workers at Rio Tinto mines, smelters and docking facilities in Canada and the U.S.

Steelworkers in Alma, Quebec, successfully defeated Rio Tinto's attempts in 2012 to destroy the union and contract out their jobs at half the pay. The Quebec workers are now mobilizing to stop Rio Tinto from implementing a new pension plan that would put retirement at risk for new employees.

In Labrador, USW members are protesting Rio Tinto's failure to honour its union contact and settle over 2,000 grievances.

In Utah, workers are demanding that the company respect the hard work, commitment and dignity of long-term employees and stop contracting out good jobs.

Today's actions coincide with the World Day for Decent Work, with unions mobilizing against precarious work - temporary, casual and contracted-out jobs that are usually insecure, low-wage, low-benefit and unsafe.

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