MAC: Mines and Communities

Most shameful practices' - Rio Tinto in the eye the storm

Published by MAC on 2001-05-23

'Most shameful practices' - Rio Tinto in the eye the storm

By Natacha David

The ICEM has revealed the truth about the ruthless world of Rio Tinto to the Annual General Assembly of the company's shareholders. Faced with the titan of the mining industry, the trade union response must be equally forceful.

Brussels, May 15 1998 (ICFTU OnLine): May 13 was a black day in the history of British mining giant Rio Tinto. Addressing the Annual General Assembly of the company's shareholders in London, trade union leaders from the International

Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) presented a detailed report exposing the multinational's most shameful practices, and threatened to reconsider its pension fund investments in Rio Tinto if the enterprise did not put an end to the violations of trade union rights, human rights, environmental rights and the rights of indigenous peoples.

The ICEM also held a parallel assembly in London, called a "factual general meeting". The assembly was open to the public and was aimed at drawing public attention to Rio Tinto's business practices. Human rights activists, environment activists, representatives of the indigenous peoples of Indonesia, Colombia and Nevada (USA) joined trade unionists in taking the floor. They

told tales of exploitation and in same cases outright terror caused by Rio Tinto, in connivance with local authorities. A representative of the Guajira people of Colombia explained how Rio Tinto had despoiled his people of their land. He pointed in particular to the activities in the El Cerrejon region. The name El Cerrejon is a familiar one to us", commented Vic Thorpe, General Secretary of the ICEM. "It has been the scene of many miners' strikes - in

some cases put down by military force. This is a good example of the community of interst between the workers of Rio Tinto and other people who suffer from Rio Tinto's operations."

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