Session Five: the AMV and Labour Issues in Africa’s Mining Regimes

Glen Mpufane opened his presentation with information about his global union, INDUSTRIALL, showing how its 50 million members in 140 countries are spread across the mineral value chain – from extraction, manufacturing to support services. He then posed two questions - do labour issues find articulation in the AMV, and what are the issues /constraints/challenges/ for advocacy in Africa’s Mining Labour regime? He answered the first question in the affirmative, pointing out that the broad developmental as well as governance objectives of the AMV are in the interest of workers. He saw these objectives expressed in the AMV’s:

  • Objective of transforming finite natural resources and transient wealth into lasting forms of capital beyond the currency of mining
  • Broader understanding of “benefits”
  • Vision of a developmental, transformative, knowledge-driven and integrated mining sector with downstream, upstream and sides-stream linkages
  • Concern for respect of intergenerational equity, environmental and material stewardship
  • Concern for labour standards, safety and health are advanced; stakeholders are empowered; and contribution of the sector to development well recognised by society
  • Promotion of good governance of the mineral sector in which communities and citizens participate in decision making and in mineral assets, and in which there is equity in the distribution of benefits.

He pointed out the recognition of these principles alone is insufficient to bring about change and that the engagement of workers and trade unions in the struggle to change and shape policies is key to ensuring that we have policies that create more jobs and foster a better working relationship that can uplift the working and living conditions of workers and communities. According to Glen the provisions of the AMV on ASM was another positive area, considering the millions of persons who work in or depend on the sector. He explained the convergence of the tenets of the AMV with INDUSTRAILL’s concerns for a sustainable industrial policy. Elements of this include moving away from mining enclaves to integrated models of production which entail the creation of linkages, industrial policies that recognise decent work, development of R&D and support for lifelong learning by workers, sustainable and secure energy policies and global, fair and binding treaty on greenhouse gas emissions. A Just Transition must be part of sustainable industrial policy and green jobs must be about both products and processes.