The Guardian July 12, 2000


Rio Tinto:
Global week of action by unions

The international trade union campaign against the giant Rio Tinto 
mining transnational reached a new high this week with protest actions 
against the company in Australia, the US, Chile, Brazil, Norway and South 
Africa. It was part of the world "global week of action". In Australia coal 
miners took 24-hour strike action last Monday.

John Maitland in welcoming the mounting international action said, "Rio 
Tinto keeps saying that it doesn't have a problem with unions except in 
Australia. Well, workers at Rio operations worldwide are showing otherwise 
this week."

Mr Maitland said that in addition to the above countries, actions will also 
occur in Thailand, Korea, the Philippines and India. "This comes on top of 
current strike action in Indonesia which has halted one of Rio's biggest 
coal mines."

"At the May annual General Meeting of the company, the chairman stated that 
mistakes had been made in workplace relations, and that Rio wanted peace 
with unions. Those statements have not yet been given any substance", said 
Mr Maitland.

Mick Watson, CFMEU Northern District President in the Hunter Valley said, 
"In 1997 Rio thought they would eliminate unions from their coal mines in 
less than a year. Three years later we're still here.

"It's very gratifying that we are being joined by Rio Tinto workers 
globally. This action, plus the big protest vote by shareholders this year, 
are a pretty clear signal to the company that it must lift its game with 
its workforce."

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