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Texan miners in London to kick start global campaign

Texan miners in London to kick start global campaign against mining giant

08 December 2014

A United Steelworkers (USW) delegation representing 450 locked out Texan miners, as part of Workers Uniting, will be protesting outside mining multinational Glencore’s HQ in London on Wednesday (10 December) to kick start a global campaign against the mining giant’s appalling labour abuses.

WHEN: Wednesday 10 December, 12:00
WHERE: Glencore HQ, 50 Berkeley St, London, W1J 8HD

Unite, Britain’s biggest union, which created the three million strong international union Workers Uniting along with the USW, has warned that the company’s attempts to starve workers into signing away health and other benefits will fail.

Around 450 workers at the Sherwin Alumina refinery in Texas – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Glencore – have been locked out of their jobs since 11 October, after rejecting the company’s wage and benefit cuts ultimatum.

A locked out miner who has travelled from Texas with a chief negotiator will hand in a letter to Glencore chief executive officer Ivan Glasenberg calling on the company to negotiate in good faith with communities and unions to resolve all workers' disputes, including the end to the lock out of USW members in Texas.

The action marks the start of a global campaign, led by IndustriALL, against Glencore’s appalling human, environmental and workers’ rights records, which includes the lock out in Texas and disputes at mines in Peru, South Africa and Colombia.

Ben Lilienfeld, USW lead negotiator, said: "A skilled and experienced workforce has been locked out for two months for refusing to sign away hard fought for benefits. Sherwin is guilty of attempting to starve the miners back to work because it has chosen to prioritise profits over the well-being of its workers and retirees.

“Sherwin Alumina is demanding that its loyal workforce accept massive wage and benefits cuts despite huge profits and rising productivity. Its proposals include freezing the defined benefit pension scheme, scrapping retiree healthcare, and increasing employee contributions for healthcare by a whopping 75 per cent.

“The union’s members were thrown off the job despite last year’s record-setting performance, which saw increased profits and production for the company. In one breath the company says that ‘families don’t turn families away when they disagree’, in the next it is shutting out an entire workforce.

Tony Burke, Unite assistant general secretary said:  “Unite stands shoulder to shoulder with trade unionists the world over. Glencore is the world’s tenth richest multinational with mines all over the globe, yet has an appalling record on human, labour and health and safety rights in the countries it mines.

“In the letter to be handed in to Glencore’s top chief, Ivan Glasenberg, we are calling on the company to respect its commitments to human rights, community culture and collective bargaining because in practice they’re nothing but a sham.

“We will be campaigning as part as Workers Uniting alongside IndustriALL to expose Glencore’s appalling human, environment and workers’ rights record in the coming months.”

Glencore is a multinational mining company with holdings all over the world. It operates more than 150 mines and metallurgical, oil and agricultural production facilities that produce more than 90 different commodities.  It is ranked tenth in the Fortune Global 500 list (2014)

ENDS

For more information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777 

Note to editors: 

USW is sending over a locked out worker and chief negotiator to hand in the letter. They will both be available for interview on the Wednesday 10 December. 

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  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey