Unions hold protest at International Olympic Committee
Workers call on the IOC to end the use of Rio’s tarnished gold in Olympic medals. Unions want Rio, “Off the Podium!”
SWITZERLAND: The Swiss metal union UNIA, the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) and the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) protested against the use of Rio Tinto metals in Olympic medals with an action at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on May 14, 2012.
The action is part of a global campaign, initiated by the United Steelworkers' Union in Canada where 780 Rio Tinto workers have been locked-out from their jobs because they refuse to allow the company to hire all new employees on a contract basis at half the wage of permanent workers.
"Rio Tinto, sponsors of the 2012 London Olympics, is providing 99 per cent of the metal for minting the London Olympic medals, tarnishing them with the company's reprehensible labour practices," said UNIA regional secretary for Vaud, Jean Kunz.
"50 million industrial workers represented by the ICEM and the IMF strongly speak out that what Rio Tinto does in Alma, Quebec, Canada is unacceptable," said Kemal Ozkan, ICEM's director of industry and corporate affairs. "We are here to remind the IOC to follow their fundamental principles and values and not accept sponsorship from an unfair player, Rio Tinto," he added.
"We urge the International Olympic Committee to demand that Rio Tinto to end its attacks on workers and the environment, starting with the lockout of 780 workers in Alma, Quebec, Canada, or tell Rio Tinto to get off the podium now," said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of the IMF.
IMF and ICEM filed a second complaint on May 10 against Rio Tinto with the London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG) urging the standards setting bodies to drop mining giant Rio Tinto as an official supplier of the 2012 London Games because of the company's treatment of workers at one of its facilities in Alma, Quebec.
Last month, the IOC refused a request from IMF and ICEM to meet and discuss the matter, claiming it was only a matter for LOCOG. Following the action, an IOC representative met with IMF's Raina and ICEM's Kemal Ozkan and said the issues raised at the action would be taken into consideration.
The campaign, called, Off the Podium, is urging the IOC and LOCOG to uphold their responsibility to ensure that official suppliers to the Olympics meet minimum ethical business standards, which run contrary to Rio Tinto's actions at the facility in Alma, Quebec.
The action in Lausanne comes just days after Australian unions held a protest outside of Rio Tinto's AGM in Brisbane. Unions around the world are taking action to expose Rio Tinto as the anti-worker, anti-community company that it is.