Working practices

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Our working practices

We recognise that our people are fundamental to our success and growth. We treat all our people fairly, uphold their rights and reward them competitively, in line with their contribution to our success.

In recent months, a number of allegations have been made against Glencore’s working practices. We would like to respond to these allegations and emphasise the importance we attribute to our constructive and transparent engagement with the representatives of our workforce.

We uphold the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. We recognise and uphold the rights of our workforce to a safe workplace, freedom of association, collective representation, just compensation, job security and development opportunities.

We are committed to working honestly and openly with labour unions at all our locations and treating employees with respect. As trade unions play different roles at our assets depending on geographical region and industrial sector, we engage with our unions in different ways and at different levels.

We believe that all occupational fatalities and injuries are preventable, and that we can create and maintain safe workplaces for all our people with strong safety leadership. Risk management is at the heart of our approach.

We make everybody in our workforce aware that we expect every individual, both employees and contractors, to take responsibility for their own safety and for that of their colleagues and host communities. All our performance data and targets relating to health and safety include contractors as well as employees.

In response to the specific allegations made, please note the following:

Australia – Oaky North

Allegation: the locking out of workers at Oaky North mine for over 230 days for resisting a plan to replace permanent workers with contractors.


During 2017, we negotiated new enterprise agreements with local Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) lodges at 13 of our Australian coal operations. In 2018, we also reached agreement at Oaky North mine. 
The issues behind the industrial dispute at Oaky North were not related to workforce casualization or to the use of contract labour. At Oaky North, we had been negotiating on a new enterprise agreement with the CFMEU for nearly three years. 

Following protracted industrial (protected) action taken by CFMEU employees, we decided to take response action under Australia’s Fair Work Act in the form of a lockout. A lockout is the only available response action open to companies under Australian workplace legislation.

On 10 January 2018, in front of a Deputy President of the Fair Work Commission, CFMEU members shook hands with the company on a proposed new enterprise agreement that should have ended the lockout. The use of contractors or casualization were not issues during the Fair Work Commission proceedings. The CFMEU members at Oaky North walked away from this handshake deal by voting against the agreement.
Throughout most of the response action, picketing employees continued to receive more than A$1,900 per week (A$1,600 from the CFMEU and A$300 in production bonuses from Oaky North for the coal that the 245 staff and contractors continued to cut in their absence).
In March 2018, 70% of employees at Oaky North voted in favour of a new proposed enterprise agreement (by 118 to 41, with 10 employees choosing not to vote). The agreement endorsed in March 2018 was identical to the enterprise agreement previously rejected in January, apart from a change in the nominal expiry date from January 2022 to March 2022.



  • Insufficient safety standards and a lack of safety training resulted in fatalities
  • Management threatened to close operations in response to any further safety incidents


In Bolivia, we actively improving safety practices and standards, incorporating international approaches for underground mining in absence of national legislation. In 2013 and 2014, we started the STOP and Safe Work programmes respectively, to raise standards, practices and safety conditions. We are promoting an approach of continuous improvement in safety practices and conditions for all workers.

Before starting work at our Bolivian operations, every employee and contractor is required to attend a mandatory training course on safety. Our Bolivian assets hold regular meetings on safety and occupational health with workers and their union representatives. We recognise that only through working in partnership can we transforming the culture of informality and high tolerance to risk that exists in the mining sector in Bolivia.

Suspension of mining activities took place in 2017 for two week following safety incidents at the operations, to enable a thorough investigation. All payment obligations were honoured, and workers sustained no loss of income. The suspension enabled the operation to upgrade working conditions. 

Canada - CEZinc

Allegation: proposed cuts to the pension scheme led workers at CEZinc to strike for nine-months


CEZinc is a zinc refinery in Canada, owned by the Noranda Income Fund (NIF) and in which Glencore has a 25% stake and operates. In February 2017, members of the United Steelworkers Union (USW) went on strike. The labour dispute resulted from the NIF’s cost reduction initiatives to adjust to market terms after the conclusion of a 15-year term where the NIF enjoyed the advantage of fixed processing fees. In November, the 371 members of the USW voted in favour of a new six-year collective agreement. The agreement was a compromise between the NIF’s need to restructure its cost base and the USW’s goal of keeping its members’ pension benefits unchanged.

Colombia – Cerrejón


  • Safety incidents resulting from the prioritisation of productivity over health and safety and poor maintenance of safety equipment 
  • Cerrejón forces disabled works to collect garbage or places them in isolated positions. 
  • Cerrejón has received a fine for excessive use of third-party contractors. 


Glencore, Anglo American and BHP jointly own the independently managed Cerrejón. Cerrejón publishes an annual sustainability report and has a comprehensive website that cover these matters. 

Cerrejón employs nearly 12,000 people, both direct employees and contractors; it strongly supports freedom of association and union rights, shown by the strength and activism of Sintracarbón, its majority union. In February 2018, Cerrejón and Sintracarbón signed a new Collective Labour Agreement for the years 2018 and 2019. 

Cerrejón has established a Joint Committee on Health and Safety, known as COPASST. Its employees represent 50% of COPASST, which investigates work-related incidents, plans inspections and reviews various epidemiological surveillance systems. In addition, Cerrejón has a health committee with Sintracarbón, with four representatives from Cerrejón and eight from Sintracarbón. An additional committee, with four representatives from Cerrejón and four from Sintracarbón, deals with all aspects related to the workers belonging to this union.

Cerrejón has the OHSAS 18001 (occupational health and safety) certification. It takes a risk-based approach to safety that identifies the causes and circumstances that may lead to a safety-related incident. It establishes controls to manage and mitigate these risks.

In Colombia, employers are required to provide appropriate duties to employees with physical disabilities that are not a result of occupational injuries or disease. Cerrejón implements measures to support employees with disabilities to return to their original work position. 

Colombian law permits the use of sub-contractors (outsourcing) and it is often required for certain specialist projects. Cerrejón’s contracts with its sub-contracting companies includes a commitment for these companies to meet Cerrejón’s requirements on health, safety, environment and communities and as well as its Human Rights and Labour Responsibility policies.

Colombia – Prodeco


  • Prodeco uses outsourcing as a tool to undermine the union. 
  • Prodeco refuses to negotiate as a single employer, instead keeping its three mines as three distinct entities with the workers from the three mines subjected to different terms and conditions. 
  • At the Calenturitas mine, Prodeco violates the right to freedom of association by discriminating against union leaders and members and undermining the collective bargaining process.


Prodeco’s labour practices are compliant with Colombian labour law. Colombian law permits the use of subcontractors (outsourcing) and it is often required for certain specialist services. When Prodeco does not have the appropriate skills in-house, it engages specialist companies to deliver these functions, such as security, food catering and maintaining specialised equipment. With respect to freedom of association, contractor workers have the same rights as Prodeco’s employees. A number of years ago the Ministry of Labour investigated mining companies in Colombia for improper use of outsourcing; it found Prodeco to be legally compliant.

The Colombian Ministry of Labour, can declare a group of companies as one entity, which allows for labour conditions, salaries and benefits of all employees in those companies to come under one compensation package of the declared dominant entity. To date, the Ministry has not made a decision in this respect for Prodeco’s separate operations. Currently, there is no substantial difference in the term and conditions of employees at any of Prodeco’s operations.

In line with the law and Glencore’s commitments, all of its workers are free to join or not join unions. Around 85% of Prodeco’s employees have chosen to be members of three non-union agreements (Collective Pacts); these are legal in Colombia. The balance of Prodeco’s employees belong to one of four union agreements. The negotiations relating to Collective Pacts are as intricate as those with unions and are negotiated on the same basis. These negotiations are fair and seek to be respectful of existing agreements with unions. 

Prodeco reached successful agreements with its major labour unions in 2008, 2013 and 2016; these agreements and their period of duration show the success of the negotiations between Prodeco and its unions. Prodeco does not discriminate against union leaders or members and is not aware of any such cases.

Prodeco applies disciplinary measures on a fair and objective basis for all its workers, unionised and non-unionised, and according to a process agreed with all parties, including its unions. Without details, we cannot provide responses to the general allegations made on changing shifts, dismissals and multiple suspensions as they are very general and we would need specific details before we could comment. 

Democratic Republic of Congo – Katanga and Mutanda


  • Glencore’s DRC assets provide insufficient amounts of drinking water, low quality food and designated eating areas
  • There is limited health care for workers and their families
  • Wages are low


In the DRC, Glencore’s employees receives regular water bottles and to date, there have been no grievances relating to the food or canteen standards. Our canteens operate in line with HACCP standards (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point – food hygiene and safety standards) and undergo regular inspections and audits to identify and address potential risks. The health department develops a weekly meal plan; each employee receives a balanced and healthy meal, with the required amounts of proteins, vegetables, carbohydrates and water. 

In the DRC, salaries reflect the role, the category, skills and experience. Nationality is not a factor in calculating salaries. As stated in our Code of Conduct, we uphold freedom from any form of discrimination. Our DRC employees receive a statutory annual salary increase. Promotions reflect performance and commitment to goals and values. Employees have access to training programmes on technical, safety, supervisory and leadership skills to support their career development and opportunities

We provide free transport to and from town to our site hospitals, allowing our employee families to easily access the facilities and receive consultation and treatment. There is no cost to employees and their dependents for the provided healthcare. In addition to the existing two hospitals, we are looking to establish an additional health facility in Kolwezi town. Our health facilities have resident specialists for surgery, gynaecology, paediatrics, internal medicine and cardiology and we offer the services of visiting specialists for conditions such as ear nose & throat and ophthalmology. For conditions requiring specialists not locally available, doctors refer patients to appropriate facilities in either Lubumbashi or Kinshasa and we incur the costs for transport and accommodation.

Peru – Antapaccay

Allegation: Antapaccay prevented technical staff from exercising their right to freedom of association, resulting in the unfair dismissal of 35 union members


Antapaccay works hard to maintain good working relationship with the unions representing its workforce. Antapaccay has worked with unionised workers for over 17 years and there are currently three established unions with union membership representing around 50% of the workforce. It currently has valid collective agreements with the three unions, for a three-year period (2016 – 2019). Antapaccay recognises that its relationship with the unions and its members is an important component to building a long-lasting business.

In May 2015, Antapaccay started its collective agreement negotiations with the Sindicato de Trabajadores Funcionarios de Compañia Minera Antapaccay (SITRAMINA). In addition to representatives of the unions representing Antapaccay’s workforce, an IndustriAll representative participated in the negotiations and attended a meeting in July 2015 with Peru’s Ministry of Labour. At the Ministry of Labour meeting, the attendees discussed the allegations against Antapaccay of unfair labour practices and agreed they were unfounded.

South Africa – Wonderkop Smelter

Allegation: Security personnel fired shots into a crowd of unarmed community members, injuring a number of people.


On 26 June, a community protest took place at Wonderkop Smelter, as community members demanded employment from the operation. The crowd of protestors were aggressive, assaulting and pelting with stones the security personnel. In addition, they pushed around employees and threatened to burn trucks entering and exiting the smelter. 

In an effort to disperse the crowd, security personnel, fired rubber bullets on the ground and eight people were injured. The injuries were minor and Wonderkop Smelter assisted in getting the individuals medical assistance. Wonderkop Smelter management is working with the local police and authorities.

Zambia – Mopani


  • Management threaten to close the operation if there were any fatalities during 2017. 
  • Falsification of medical reports to force workers to return to work. 
  • Exposure of employees to harmful substances. 
  • The use of sub-contractors’ faulty equipment puts employees at risk. 
  • A reduction in employees has resulted in understaffed operations. 
  • A zero-tolerance approach for health and safety places blame and liability on employees and in turn, there is a suppression of the reporting of accidents as employees’ fear disciplinary measures. 
  • Around 50% of workers are contractors, who receive one third of the wages of permanent employees and are not able to join a union.


As is common at industrial operations around the world, in the event of a fatality, the operation is closed to allow a full investigation to take place. This is standard practice and not a “threat” used against workers.

We are not aware of any falsified medical records. 

At all of our operations, we monitor our people’s exposure to toxic hazards and seek to control this exposure wherever possible. We have established occupational exposure limits and require all of our people to wear appropriate personal protection equipment that is appropriate for their tasks. 

Without specific details, we are unable to comment on the allegation relating to sub-contractors’ equipment.

Towards the end of 2015, we announced that we would restructure production at our African copper operations, allowing for major infrastructure works that will deliver a more sustainable growth for the assets over the long term. Mopani worked closely with the government and unions to put in place a plan to help minimise the impact on affected employees. As production ramps up, employees will return to work. 

We strongly reject the allegation regarding the suppression of reporting safety incidents. Glencore has established a rigorous framework for the identification, categorisation and reporting of safety incidents. Internal and external auditors regularly audit Glencore’s assets on the implementation and use of this framework. We believe the allegation may relate to three non-occupational deaths (a child tragically drowning in a pond, an employee dying from a pulmonary embolism and an employee dying from natural causes). In all three cases, we made full reports to the relevant authorities (police, mine safety department and local district authorities). As these deaths were not occupational, they were not included in Mopani’s externally reported safety performance.

All employees have access to ‘Raising Concerns’ a platform through which concerns on work practices can be raised and that are then investigated by our compliance department.

Our contract awarding process applies appropriate scrutiny to ensure relevant competencies for each work package undertaken by contractors. Our Sustainable Development Academy’s primary focus is on contractor management and pre-employment screening. This includes reviewing medical status and fitness for work, safety training, regulatory competencies, induction and training for special risk jobs eg working at heights. We treat contractor employees in the same manner as our Mopani employees.

We value our relationship with the organisations representing our workers and we are committed to working together to ensure the long-term success of our business.