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Breaches of Freedom of Association Rife at AngloGold, Barrick Gold Mines in Tanzania

ICEM in Brief

ICEM workshops in Tanzania on 12-13 March reveal blatant abuses of freedom of association by subsidiary mining enterprises of AngloGold Ashanti and Barrick Gold. The workshops were done specifically for ICEM affiliate Tanzania Association of Mining and Construction Workers’ Union (TAMICO), under the auspices of ICEM’s Sub-Saharan African Regional Organisation (SSARO), with ICEM President Senzeni Zokwana and ICEM/SSARO staff person Fabian Nkomo leading the important sessions.

In attendance were the secretaries of TAMICO’s four regions, plus district secretaries and key Tanzanian union activists. This ICEM project, called the Organizational Growth Project, is sponsored jointly by FNV Mondiaal of the Netherlands and LO-TCO of Sweden.

ICEM President Senzeni Zokwana

The focus of the two-day meeting was on AngloGold’s 100%-owned Geita Holdings Ltd. and African Barrick Gold Plc., 75% owned by Barrick Gold of Canada and an asset that this week will see an initial public offering of the remaining 25% on the London Stock Exchange.. Both companies, separately, have engaged in labour relations conduct that is counter-productive to adherence of ILO Conventions 87 and 98, the basic workers’ rights of freedom of association and right to organise and bargaining collectively.

At Geita Gold, management illegally screens all TAMICO membership forms, and has refused union recognition to those workers that it does not want in the union. Despite the union recruiting 900 mill and mine workers into TAMICO, Geita management in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania only recognizes 400 workers as members of the union. The ICEM has long known that Geita human resources director Philemon Tano openly discriminates against union membership, and this issue has been brought before AngloGold, a company that is obligated to respect labour and other standards with the ICEM through a Global Framework Agreement.

From the outcome of these workshops, SSARO will again lodge a compliant with AngloGold Ashanti in Johannesburg, South Africa, on this inappropriate conduct.

Fabian Nkomo

At Barrick’s, Tanzania’s largest gold producer with mines at Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi, North Mara, and Tulawaku, management has continued to issue dismissals as a method to discourage membership in the union. In 2007 at the Bulyanhulu mine, following a break-down in negotiations between TAMICO and management over salaries, working conditions, and medical care that caused a strike by some 1,000 miners, Barrick’s summarily fired all strikers. Reports at the workshop stated that TAMICO members are sacked almost on a daily basis by African Barrick Gold Plc.

(On 16 March, three miners were killed at the underground Bulyanhula mine when a cave-in brought giant rock down on the miners. The ICEM extends deep sympathies to the families of the miners – Dickson Kadelema, Vedasstus Wilfred Tandise, and Joel Nicholas – and calls on Barrick’s to ensure proper safeguards are in place inside its mines in Tanzania and elsewhere.)

The 12-13 March ICEM workshops in Dar es Salaam did produce an aggressive action plan. Participants vowed to strengthen organizationally TAMICO, particularly the union’s regional structures and the development of mandates from the union’s leadership. This plan was put forth to better monitor and record AngloGold and Barrick’s employment and trade union abuses. TAMICO’s four regional secretaries attending the workshops pledged to recruit a total of 12,000 new members in 2010.

Participants also launched a campaign specifically at AngloGold’s Geita subsidiary to win full union recognition by the end of June 2010. South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which already works closely with TAMICO, will ramp up efforts through SSARO to strengthen the Tanzanian union’s structures in order to meet the workshop’s goals.

 

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