600 Mauritanian gold miners launch illegal work stoppage

Tasiast gold mine (photo CGTM)

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!

Comments

Steven.
Jun 7 2012 22:08

Cheers for posting this, please keep us updated!

Ramona
Jun 8 2012 10:41

Can't find any updates, so far we are the update, but I found this abt last year's strike so I'll see if I can find anything from that union... http://www.afriquejet.com/mauritanian-miners-go-on-strike-2011052012514.html

Ramona
Jun 8 2012 11:29

Article updated with more info on the strike, and an *extensive* list of strike demands!

Meanwhile in Spain, miners are apparently on strike since May, and have apparently built their own rocket launchers. I might have to start a regular feature, "Remember the miner's strike?", since miners everywhere seem to constantly be on strike.

Ramona
Jun 12 2012 15:52

Just to quickly update - after a five day sit-in, the workers have won their demands and signed an agreement with Kinross. I'll write something up as its own story tomorrow when I have more time.

Steven.
Jun 12 2012 19:14

Great stuff! Thanks!

S. Artesian
Jun 12 2012 21:22

Thanks

sri
Jun 27 2012 17:08

From Google translation of http://cgtm.org/spip.php?article1162&lang=ar : "It was mentioned in the agreement that an increase of 50% of base salary will be considered in the next six months..."

How much is the base salary in $US or Ouguiya?