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Global union launches campaign against world copper mining giants

By staff - MorningStar, September 2021

GLOBAL union confederation IndustriALL is taking on a copper mining company, calling for an end to its exploitation of workers.

It has its sights set on the Chilean franchise of the Anglo-Australian BHP multinational company, accusing it of using its corporate muscle to shape laws to work in its favour.

IndustriALL brought together Chilean BHP unions in an online workshop to explore issues of human rights abuses in global supply chains as well as health and safety.

Workers there have been forced to seek redress through the courts, however there are limited mechanisms offering protection to those working in the BHP-operated mines.

“Environmental, social and governance issues are today seen as the biggest risk to the mining industry.

“BHP can no longer evade these issues. It must show respect for workers, communities and the country as a whole,” IndustriALL spokesman Glenn Mpufane said.

Chile is the world’s largest copper producer, yet at least 61 per cent of BHP workers are contractors with precarious employment conditions.

IndustriALL argues that they should be treated more fairly by the multinational company, with copper becoming a crucial resource in the global economy, in high demand for the energy transition.

“As a result, BHP shareholders enjoy attractive returns, but what are the returns for workers, communities and the country as a whole?” Mr Mpufane said.

In August matters spilled over as government-mediated pay talks stalled and workers threatened to ballot for strike action.

The dispute worried world copper markets, despite the price of the metal rocketing to record highs earlier this year.

They wished to avoid a repeat of the 44-day walkout in Escondia, the world’s largest copper mine, in 2017.

IndustriALL’s global campaign urges BHP to enter negotiations “to address its poor record of ill treatment of workers, communities and environmental degradation across its global operations.”

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