Covid-19 and Minning in Democratic Republic of Congo

WORKERS ‘RIGHTS AND HEALTH BEYOND FINANCIAL INTERESTS

On June 11, a letter from a collective of NGOs and civil society alerted public opinion to potential violations of workers’ rights as well as improper management in several mining companies operating in Katanga which have decided to continue operating during covid-19.

First of all, remember that the greater Katanga is an essentially mining province, considered as the economic lung of the DRC, a good part of the budget of which depends on the export of minerals.

But beyond this internal need, Katanga, by its copper and cobalt of which it holds more than 60% of the world reserves, represents an international and geopolitical stake. And among many companies that mine Katangese minerals, several are subsidiaries of large international firms based in large capitals and financed by major financial markets

Thus, these multinational mining companies, aware of their weight and networks, often tend to behave in conquered lands by sabotaging the rights of their employees to the point that each time it is a question of making choices between sacrificing the interests of financial capitalism and defending the rights of workers, they have always been the losers.

In their letter, this civil society collective castigated, among other things, the following:

1. The unilateral decision to continue the work

Some companies have decided to continue operating for, exposing their workers to the risk of contamination of their workers on a daily basis due to the fact that they have to take public transport. This also exposes their families.

Others, however, have decided to keep their workers on site to avoid any exposure. However, the problem is that all these decisions were taken unilaterally by the employers without taking into account the wishes of the workers, some of whom would have liked to stay at home during this time.

This capitalist logic recalls that shameful page in the history of the Congo where, against their will, men were kidnapped and forced to work in order to produce the quantities of rubber necessary for Western industry.

2. Over-exploitation of workers

Some companies have agreed to limit the number of workers on the site in order to respect social distancing. However, obeying a capitalist logic where production must remain the same, they make this reduced workforce work beyond the regular ceiling of eight hours per day without prior negotiation or adequate remuneration.

This reminds us of the time of slavery when we were concerned with the amount of work to be done and not with the well-being of the slave worker !!

3. Minimum protection for workers

According to a letter from this collective of 11 civil societies, the protection measures on the sites are insufficient and personal protective equipment is sometimes lacking.

And more than all the companies that have decided to confine their workers do not provide them with sufficient food.

Only workers will defend workers

As said above, these powerful multinationals so easily taunt the government which always tends to play the game of the companies that of its population. Thus, faced with this Covid-19 slavery under cover, working class solidarity is needed to demand that:

• No worker is forced to stay working against their will;

• Those who stay at home are not dismissed;

• Those who agree to work during this time benefit from appropriate protection so as not to contract the virus;

• Hygiene and aseptic measures should be increased and permanent awareness made on the sites so that the right information is available to everyone;

• All sick workers receive appropriate support from the company;

• Those who remain on the sites benefit from risk premiums and all other advantages and compensations;

• No worker is forced to work for more than 8 hours;

• No fundamental workers’ right is violated: whether it is their human rights or those related to their status as workers;

• Sufficient and quality food is given to those who remain confined to the sites.

May the health, rights and well-being of workers be guaranteed and take precedence over economic and financial gain. Life is priceless!

LIST OF MINING COMPANIES ACTING IN THE KATANGA MINING REGION

Kamoa-Kakula Mine

Chemicals of Africa (CHEMAF mine)

Metalkol RTR

Frontier Mine

Kamoto Copper Company (KCC)

Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM)

Sino-Congolaises des Mines (SICOMINES)

Compagnie Minière de Musonoie (COMMUS)

Mutanda Mining (MUMI)

Congo Dongfang International Mining (CDM mine)

Somidez (Deziwa mine)

La Minière de Kalukundi (LAMIKAL)

La Minière de Kalumbwe Myunga (MKM)

Wrote by: Yves Mwana Mayas

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