MAC: Mines and Communities

Global campaign against Vale gains momentum

Published by MAC on 2009-11-09

In August, we highlighted attempts by the world's leading iron ore miner, Vale, to break a strike undertaken by the United Steelworkers union in Canada. See

The struggle is continuing, with new industrial action being mounted in Brazil and  mobilisation of support by international workers' federations.


Global campaign against Vale gaining momentum

Anita Gardner - International Metalworker's Federation (IMF)

4 November 2009

From Sweden to Korea, New Caledonia to Indonesia and Mozambique, IMF and ICEM affiliates around the world are calling on Vale to make a Fair Deal NOW and respect basic labour rights at all of its operations around the world.

The United Steelworkers' (USW) global campaign to prevent Brazilian mining giant Vale S.A. from eroding working conditions and denying basic labour rights at its operations worldwide is gaining momentum with the assistance from the International Metalworkers' Federation, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions and LabourStart.

Members of the two global union federations have held a number of actions around the world targeting Vale business operations and investment. LabourStart, a web-based news service for the international trade union movement, launched an online letter writing campaign yesterday, with more than 1,000 letters sent to Vale CEO Roger Agnelli within hours. In coordination with the letter writing campaign, the IMF launched its global campaign webpage ( with information about the struggle in four languages.

IMF and ICEM affiliates are being asked to support the global campaign and send letters to Vale. 3500 USW members in Canada have been on strike since July 13 after refusing deep concessions from the Brazilian mining giant. The company has hired replacement workers to continue production during the strike.

On October 26, workers at Vale's largest Brazilian mine walked off the job in response to the company's proposal at the bargaining table. Vale workers in Brazil report the denial of basic labour rights, low wages and substandard health and safety conditions.

IMF and ICEM affiliates in October, with the help of the International Transport Workers' Federation, tracked a Vale copper shipment from Canada to Germany and on to Sweden. Union members held a protest at the port outside of Hamburg and in Sweden, met with board members of Vale customer Boliden AB which owns the Rönnskär copper smelter.

The global campaign is making an impact and has some Vale executives on the run. The company has twice cancelled its "Vale Day" at the New York Stock Exchange and in London respectively. More global actions are planned until a just resolution can be reached.

For more information about the IMF and ICEM global campaign in support of USW and Brazilian Vale workers, go to:
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