Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mauritanian mining strike over - workers win their demands

I was supposed to be blogging about something else today, but events have overtaken me, and I'm feeling too weary now. So here's a repost from LibCom of some (largely) good news for a change!

This time last week libcom reported on striking gold miners in Mauritania - after five days of strike action, the miners have won their demands and returned to work.

The miner's union, the General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers (CGTM) reports that 1,500 workers staged a sit-in at the Tasiast mine during the strike, bringing all production to a halt. This is estimated to have cost Kinross, the Canadian firm who own the mine, around $43,300 per hour.

The miners raised 21 separate demands relating mostly to their poor working conditions, but the unfair dismissal of their colleague Mohamed Vall Ould Merzough after he took time off sick provided the catalyst for the action. Mohamed Vall Ould Merzough has been reinstated, and a committee is now in place to review the cases of all dismissed workers.

The workers have signed an agreement with the company, who have agreed to consider the 50% pay increase demanded by the workers, as well as the provision of full health insurance. The agreement also covers improvements to the on-site clinic and the establishment of a pharmacy, and the provision of mineral water for workers. The miners will also receive bonuses of around 2 months salary every six months.

One of the demands made by striking workers was for "Mauritanization" of recruitment, which the CGTM explains as increasing the number of Mauritanian workers at the site and decreasing the number of expatriate workers - Mauritania has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, and mining jobs are highly sought after, with people coming from across Africa to work here. This demand, in amongst a list of otherwise straightforward demands, is obviously very worrying.
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