Human rights violations by Glencore

Our global union it’s the
global union I’m with David’s psi IndustriALL Global Union represents
workers in the manufacturing energy and mining sectors and 148 countries around
the world. We’ve had the pleasure of working together with CETIM to submit
a joint declaration on Glencore to the UN Human Rights Council it’s on the UN
HRC website and it focuses on Glencore as a case study of why a binding
treaty on multinational corporations is so important. We IndustriALL Global Union was recently looking for some mining or metals company to launch a
global campaign against. It’s a dirty business. There are a lot of rogue companies in these sectors. We looked at companies from Brazil, from South Africa, from Canada, but we ended up deciding to focus on one from little old
Switzerland Glencore. Because this is a company that is so abusive toward workers in so many countries. Violates their fundamental rights, it does not treat them with dignity. And we talked with their head office officials in Zug, Switzerland about what’s going on. Their head of CSR and she told us, well wait a second, I mean I’m the head of CSR, we’ve got a lot of great projects around the world, look on our website, we have a great statement of principles. But we
said, you know that’s that’s not what’s going on at the mines around the world,
that’s not how you operate. And she said well, you know, at our individual
operations we give the mine managers autonomy but we tell them they got to implement the global principles. Well we know that they don’t. And that’s a fundamental problem with this company and with a lot of companies. They have global principles on their websites. They put out annual sustainability reports but they don’t really have the the mechanisms in place to ensure that they uphold those in their operations.
And a lot of the operations of companies like Glencore are in places like the DRC
or in Colombia. Where in parts of these countries have simply not effective
governance, workers’ fundamental rights are not protected and we don’t know when they will be. And in the meanwhile we believe that a mechanism like the UN
binding treaty on multinational corporations is so
important to hold companies like Glencore accountable. I wanted to mention a couple of examples quickly from the DRC and from Colombia that I think are very
salient. And it’s interesting because the DRC is a French language speaking
country and Colombia is a Spanish language speaking country, but on
different occasions, independent of one another, trade
unionists use the same single word to describe what it’s like look working for
Glencore in their countries. It was really uncanny, I was surprised to hear it both of them said it’s like Guantanamo, it’s like one Guantanamo
working for Glencore in the DRC. Because workers there in these mines, in
these very hot environments are not provided sufficient drinking water,
they’re not provided drinking water until lunchtime, they’re not provided
food that’s fit for consumption, human consumption, they’re not provided
adequate health care. And this is in an industry where there’s a high rate of
occupational diseases, but these are covered up with the help of Glencore’s
hospitals in the DRC. The black workers are discriminated against, they don’t get
the same level of care as the white workers do at Glencore in the DRC.
Wages are very low for direct employees and they’re even lower for the large
precarious work force that does work at Glencore’s mines. Workers don’t receive
the pay increases they’re entitled to under the law, the company violates
provisions of the collective bargaining agreement, the company refuses to enter
into negotiations over long-standing grievances and workers reported how
their families were exposed to occupational diseases because Glencore in the DRC doesn’t provide shower facilities, so workers have to go
home dirty. One of the workers reported to us on a mission: “we’re so filthy when we get home that we cannot hug our children”. So what about
the DRC government, why can’t we rely on it to ensure high
standards are upheld. I mean there’s massive corruption there, there’s just a
lack of governance in many parts of the country, a lack of stability and that’s
simply not a solution. In Colombia Glencore has a lot of coal mining
operations. At Prodeco where SINTRACARBON is the union that
represents the workers, we were told that the Glencore works aggressively to
persuade union members to resign from the union through disciplinary measures,
through suspensions and dismissals, through a combination of threats and
incentives. Also as a way to undermine the Union they’ve contracted out
70% of the workforce knowing that workers that are contracted out are
afraid to exercise their organizing and bargaining rights because they know they
can be terminated. Sick workers the company lays them off and if workers
resistance stand up to their rights when they’re sick, Glencore sents those workers to a mine that the workers call Guantanamo, where
there are terrible conditions and workers have to work in extremely tight
spaces. And these are sick workers who were already compromised, so it makes it
near impossible. The unions report Glencore also has very poor
environmental practices and the union’s ally in Colombia with environmental
groups to try to address this, but it’s really difficult, because Glencore is
able to use its influence with the government given the large size of the
investment. So these are a couple of extreme cases with Glencore, we could bring up more of them. It’s a rogue company, it’s a Swiss company that takes advantage of the lack of effective governments in a lot of less developed
countries. We’re running a global corporate campaign against this company, we’re seeing some progress. We have dialogue with the company. But that’s just one company in a very dirty business. We can’t run campaigns against
all of them, we need broader solutions and that’s why UN binding treaty is so
important. Thanks

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