A USW member wears the union badge on their jacket. Photo: Raymond Beljan
Glencore: unions protest at mining multinational’s misdemeanours
This week Unite will be joined by representatives of the United Steelworkers from the USA who have been locked out by their company Sherwin Alumina, in Gregory, Texas. Their company is owned by global mining and commodities corporation Glencore. As part of Workers Uniting (the global union formed by Unite and the USW), we will be protesting against company abuses against our members and demanding an end their attack on workers and their communities.
Tomorrow, we’ll be taking our message direct to the company at a glitzy corporate event in London’s Mayfair. Given its record of abuses, it seems fitting that Glencore will use this day not to acknowledge human or worker rights, but to host an investor conference.
Last year, its net income of $4.6 billion made it the 10th largest company in the world. It is also recognised as one of the world’s most reckless corporate citizens – it has already won one ‘award’ for its business practices and is now nominated for a Public Eye Lifetime Award for its long record of irresponsible behaviour.
Glencore has been aggressively anti-union. In the USA, at its Sherwin Alumina plant, Glencore has gone so far as locking out members of the United Steelworkers (USW) cutting off their pay cheques and blocking them from entering their worksites in order to push through severe concessions.
In South Africa and Peru, workers have been forced to go on strike to fight for basic rights like health and safety on the job, and to protest benefit cuts and the company’s violations of their collective bargaining agreements.
In Colombia, Glencore has been linked to a paramilitary group responsible for murdering trade unionists and intimidating activists. In Australia, the company has evicted former workers from company housing, causing great hardship for families and for local communities.
The company claims to value a culture of respect, yet its disregard for the rights of workers and those who live near its worksites would suggest otherwise.
Perhaps most concerning is Glencore’s reckless behaviour on health and safety. In Peru and Colombia, workplace injuries are common, and the company refuses to work with unions to address these issues. In the USA, the injury rate at Glencore’s Sherwin Alumina plant was twice the national average and now this facility is being operated by inexperienced replacement workers.
Glencore’s production and profits have risen, but that has not stopped the company from engaging in displacing communities, or trying to force radical cuts and concessions on workers. Again and again, Glencore has chosen to aggressively attack workers and disregard its neighbours rather than bargaining fairly or collaborating with local communities.
This week in London, we’re saying “no more!”