Around 600 miners employed by Kinross, Canada's third largest gold miner, walked off the job on Monday 4th June.
The Tasiast open-pit mine in Mauritania, West Africa, is one of many owned by Kinross, who have interests in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Russia, the US, and Ghana.
600 mostly unionised workers have not reported for work since Monday, bringing all mining and processing to a standpoint.
According to the General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers, 100% of the workforce have been on strike, with transport from Nouakchott (the capital and nearest city) being suspended, and workers in the city coming out on solidarity strike.
The workers are demanding1:
- the reinstatement of two of their colleagues who were sacked after time off sick
- a recall of the Chief of the Mining Department and two other officials,
- all unfairly dismissed workers to be reinstated
- a 50% salary increase
- compliance with medical rest prescribed by doctors to sick workers
- a bonus of 5 month's wages
- full coverage from company health insurance
- improvements to the clinic in the mine
- improvements to accommodation and food at the mine
- provision of mineral water for all workers
- the sacking of two leaders of the exploration team
- separate facilities provided for men and women in staff canteen and transport
Workers at Tasiast also staged a walk-out over pay in May 2011.
The union claims management are unwilling to negotiate so far. It is estimated that the stoppage is costing the company around $43,000 per hour.
Over 90% of Mauritania's formal workforce is unionised, and strikes and collective bargaining rights are covered by law. Whilst there is health and safety legislation to protect workers, this is often ignored by employers.
Mauritania has around 30% unemployment, rising to around 50% for urban young men, and 69% for urban young women. Mining jobs are highly sought after, with workers from across Africa and even the Philippines competing for jobs.
- 1. there were some other demands that neither my French or google translate could make sense of, see the link if you can do better!