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IndustriALL raises Glencore human rights violations with UN Human Rights Council

The UN HRC is currently meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The statement, titled “Workers’ Human Rights Violations by Glencore around the World”, highlights Glencore’s violations of workers’ human rights in numerous countries, and points to Glencore as an example of why a binding UN treaty on multinationals and human rights is needed.

IndustriALL attended the UN HRC meeting on 27 June and delivered an oral statement. On 21 June, IndustriALL spoke at a UN HRC side event on the need for a binding treaty.

Speaking at the UN HRC meeting, IndustriALL campaigns director Adam Lee said:

“Glencore’s systematic practice of violating workers’ human rights around the world with almost total impunity highlights the urgent need for an international legally binding instrument allowing the regulation of transnational corporations′ activities and their impacts on human rights.

“This instrument would also be an essential tool to guarantee access to justice for the victims and the affected communities.”

The statement highlights instances of rights violations by the company. These include health and safety concerns in Bolivia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia, where Glencore has displayed a pattern of behaviour that shifts the blame for safety violations onto the workforce.

Despite intensifying work pressure and failing to provide adequate training or equipment, Glencore has threatened to close operations if there are accidents.

Glencore’s workforce is increasingly precarious, as the percentage of contractors used by the company grew to 43 per cent last year. In some cases, the company contracts out workers in violation of local laws. Casualized workers have no security, lower pay and worse conditions. They are deterred from joining unions because they risk being replaced if they do.

Glencore actively undermines its workers’ rights to freedom of association by attempting to break unions. In Australia, workers were locked out of the Oaky North mine and placed under surveillance for resisting plans to replace them with contractors.

In Canada, Glencore hired strike breakers during a recent nine-month dispute at the CEZinc refinery, while in Peru, the company fired union members, offering to reinstate them if they left the union.

Because Glencore is Swiss based, the statement also urges the Swiss government to intervene and ensure that the company does not violate human rights in other countries.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

“Our affiliates have consistently raised Glencore’s violations of workers’ human rights over the years. However, Glencore has refused meaningful dialogue, forcing us to appeal to the UN HRC.

“We will continue to raise these issues in every forum available to us until Glencore commits to respecting the rights of its workers and working with us resolve the situation.”


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