Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 09:57:58 GMT-1000 Subject: M-NEWS: (Fwd) Union Assault on Rio Tinto - The Aust 11/2/98 n`The Australian Newspaper - 11 Feb 98 Hawke heads union assault on Rio Tinto By MATTHEW STEVENS and AFP AN international union group with former prime minister Bob Hawke at its vanguard has given transnational miner Rio Tinto a month's notice of plans to unleash a "secret weapon" against the company's labour policies. Trade unionists from 14 countries announced their intention to co-ordinate an international assault on Rio Tinto, the world's biggest miner, after a three-day meeting in Johannesburg to challenge the company's labour practices. The unions alleged Rio Tinto was attempting to stamp out organised labour and was abusing the environment and human rights. At the launch of the campaign, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers Unions (ICEM) said: "In exactly one month's time, a significant event will take place internationally. It will kick off the formal part of our campaign (against Rio Tinto)." Speaking after the meeting, Mr Hawke said he was "concerned about the rights of workers to organise, to maximise their power against a very powerful employer". He criticised Rio Tinto for being "monumentally hypocritical" by implementing the two-party work relationship. He said Rio Tinto's underlying goal was the elimination of the trade union movement. The chief executive of Rio Tinto Energy, Leigh Clifford, dismissed Mr Hawke's criticism, saying the company's aim was better performance, not de-unionising the workplace. "The issue is about work practice and productivity," he told ABC Radio yesterday.
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