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IndustriALL Global Union

IndustriALL sets out union goals for decent work in the battery supply chain, organizing in Green Tech

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, November 20, 2020

IndustriALL Global Union represents workers along the entire battery supply chain, (except in China) through its international affiliates in mining, chemicals, energy, electronics, and the automotive sector. Canada’s Unifor is an affiliate. “Due diligence across the battery supply chain” (November 2020) describes that expanding and complex supply chain, from mining to processing to end-use products for batteries, and outlines the union’s aim to research and map it. IndustriALL’s aim is to “create a social dialogue scheme or platform with key stakeholders to achieve decent work for all throughout the supply chain. IndustriALL is the only global union who can coordinate unions around the world and contribute to the policy to achieve decent work around the battery supply chain. The international trade union movement becomes more important than ever. ” A separate post, “Developing a global trade union battery supply chain strategy” ( November 20) outlines further specifics about the union’s strategy and announces: “IndustriALL has applied for funding for a project starting in January 2021 on the battery supply chain across the industrial sectors. In a pilot project IndustriALL intends to collaborate with companies, NGOs and other associations to find out how such an approach can help to genuinely improve the situation workers along the entire battery supply chain.”

GreenTEch Manifesto for Mechanical Engineering

IndustriALL Global Union convened an online seminar on green technology in the mechanical engineering sector in early November 2020 – summarized here. The seminar was the occasion to launch a GreenTech Manifesto, which defines “Green technology” (GreenTech ) as “ any technology that promotes one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN summit in 2015, specifically clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, green industry, innovation and infrastructure, responsible consumption and production and climate action.”

At a previous IndustriALL workshop on Mechanical Engineering and GreenTech in December 2018, the President of Austrian trade union PRO-GE and co-chair of the sector, said: “As mechanical engineers and trade unionists, technology is the most important contribution we can make to mitigating climate change. We need hydro, we need wind, we need solar, we need biomass. And we need strong unions to ensure that energy transition is just.”

The new Greentech Manifesto states: “IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliates need to be alert and present so that green jobs become good jobs with appropriate working and living conditions. To this end the participants at this IndustriALL Global Union GreenTech virtual workshop resolve to: § facilitate exchange between affected affiliates in the sector over new trends, especially focusing on GreenTech, digitization and related developments § organize training for trade union organizers and works councils to develop new methods, strategies and services to approach and recruit new employees at green workplaces § involve especially young workers and women in our work § intensify our efforts to increase trade union power in the affected sectors through organizing and recruiting.”

IndustriALL Global Union protest letter to BHP Billiton’s shareholders

By Valter Sanches -  IndustriALL Global Union, October 20, 2016

As the new General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, which represents more than 50 million workers in mining, energy and manufacturing industries in 140 countries, I wish to convey to you my warmest solidarity greetings and support to the London Mining Network’s coordinated demonstration in the context of the BHP Billiton annual shareholders’ meeting.

In particular, IndustriALL Global Union expresses its full support of the victims, both workers and residents, of the Samarco mining dam disaster in Mariana, Brazil on 5 November 2015. This environmental disaster was the result of the collapse of a huge tailings dam at the Samarco Mineração S.A, which is a mine jointly owned by BHP Billiton and the Brazilian company, Vale.

Therefore, it cannot be business as usual at this shareholders’ meeting, the first one since the Samarco disaster. The iron ore tailings dam, under BHP Billiton’s care, maintenance and responsibility collapsed, releasing a toxic wave, which flooded the valley, killing 19 people while injuring others, with an estimated 500 people having been displaced from their homes.

It cannot be business as usual when the sludge and mining residues from the dam reached the River Doce, a source of drinking water in the south east of Brazil. As a result, municipal authorities had to ban the use of river water for human consumption. The contaminated water even reached the Atlantic Ocean.

A separate police investigation has accused Samarco Mineração S.A of wilful misconduct, stating that the company ignored clear signs that the dam was at risk of collapsing. There are also claims that seek to corroborate the police report that Samarco Mineração S.A had been warned about the possibility of the dam collapsing.  We demand a full and impartial investigation of this environmental disaster.

IndustriALL Global Union finds it unacceptable that BHP Billiton has sought to buy its way out of this tragedy, which should not have happened in the first place, by taking charge of only $1.3 billion, a far lower sum than the $8 billion public civil claim instituted by the Brazilian authorities.

It is important to add that several delegates at IndustriALL’s 2nd Congress, which took place in Rio de Janeiro from 4 to 7 October 2016, referred to BHP Billiton as a bad example of company behavior.

As the 5 November anniversary of the disaster approaches, IndustriALL Global Union is preparing to commemorate this tragic event, the worst ever environmental disaster in Brazil’s history. Trade unions, and environmental and human rights organizations will express their full solidarity with those affected, one year on, demanding that all necessary steps be taken to ensure that such an accident never occurs again; that those found responsible be punished to the full extent of the law; and that the River Doce be brought back to its original state.

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