Mauritania: International Unions Back Striking Gold Miners

Brussels — The ITUC has expressed its full support for workers employed by Tasiast Mauritania (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kinross Canada), who have been on strike since 8 August, as well as its solidarity with its Mauritanian affiliate, the CGTM, which is coordinating the fight on the ground.

The Tasiast gold mine, approximately 300 kilometres north of the capital Nouakchott, is the third largest in the world, produces 200,000 ounces of gold per year, and declared a profit of US$ 153.8 million in 2012.

Over 90% of the approximately 1400 direct employees of Tasiast Mauritania are taking industrial action in protest at their employers’ failure to respect the commitments made in 2011 with regards to pay, medical cover, and more decent treatment of mining staff. The workers are also protesting against various positions taken by the management, such as moves to cut bonus pay or the refusal to transfer seriously ill employees to the capital Nouakchott.

Responding to the employer’s failure to honour its commitments, the workers’ representatives presented a list of demands and a strike notice on 25 July.

On the eve of the planned strike, the workers’ representatives, in a spirit of conciliation, announced that industrial action would be postponed for three months, subject to the status quo being maintained. The management, however, decided to impose a new method of calculating bonus pay, without discussion, as well as attempting to force the workers to relinquish hard earned rights and to pledge that no strike notice would be filed in the future. Faced with this response slamming the door on any serious negotiations, the workers’ representatives had no choice but to go ahead with the strike action.

The ITUC has condemned Tasiast’s conduct, which contravenes the principles of collective bargaining, good faith and the labour legislation, and has urged the company to listen to the workers’ legitimate grievances, to initiate genuine dialogue and to end all acts of intimidation against the striking workers.

The ITUC has also condemned Kinross Tasiast management’s violation of the right to strike, by using employees from subcontractors working for Kinross to replace the striking workers.

The ITUC has also expressed concern at reports from workers at the site that an employee of the subcontractor Canary Log was allegedly found dead under obscure circumstances after being sent to work for Kinross Tasiast. The Confederation has requested urgent clarification regarding the fate of this worker.

The ITUC fully supports the CGTM, which is providing coordination for the workers’ representatives on the ground as well for the other trade union organisations involved, and has expressed its total solidarity with this trade union action to defend the workers’ legitimate demands.

SOURCE International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)