Joint press release on behalf of Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines, War on Want, Indigenous Peoples Links

Who are you protecting? #CommoditiesSummit

Who are you protecting? #CommoditiesSummit

Image by jan zuppinger

“Enough is enough”: international protests against notorious multinational Glencore

Affected communities, trade unions, NGOs, and individuals will join forces today in coordinated international protest actions against anti-people and anti-environment practices across the globe by the notorious commodities and mining giant Glencore. Glencore stands accused of union busting, environmental destruction and complicity in human rights violations against communities in which it operates. The protestors are calling upon investors to divest from Glencore, and for national legislatures around the globe to take a tougher, more joined up stance on Glencore’s abuses around the world.

  • Human rights: Glencore has been accused of human rights abuses in countries such as the Philippines, where it has admitted that its Tampakan mining project has made payments to armed forces who are accused of murdering indigenous activists opposing the project; in Colombia the global union federation IndustiALL has reported that a group of former army officers have linked Glencore to a paramilitary group responsible for murdering trade unionists. It is alleged that the paramilitary group trained at a camp located inside a Glencore mine. 
  • Environment: the company has come under criticism for environmental destruction/contamination in numerous countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  • Labour issues: IndustriALL has accused Glencore of “consistent brutality and disrespect for workers rights”, and a brutal anti-union drive. In the USA management at Glencore’s Sherwin Alumina plant in Texas has locked out trade union members since 11 October. Glencore is demanding drastic concessions, including stripping retirees of health care benefits. In Peru, workers at the Antamina mine are subjected to health and safety violations on a regular basis and are being denied fair payment for bonuses and overtime.
  • Climate change: Glencore's operations in 40 countries handle 3% of the world's oil consumption and the combined entity was the world's largest exporter of thermal coal.

Protest actions will take place around the world, including in London, as well as the company’s AGM in Switzerland.

Graciela Romero, Director of International Programmes, War on Want, said: “Glencore operations around the globe have been heavily contested by local communities, workers and trade unions because of the sheer scale of destruction to livelihoods and the environment. Yet there is no action from the UK government and international bodies to hold Glencore accountable for their human rights violations. It is irresponsible to allow the company to hide behind its corporate social responsibility. Governments should ensure that legally binding regulations are urgently put in place and communities’ rights to demand justice and stop future mining operations in their territories upheld. ”  

Andy Whitmore, Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks), said: “Although the company AGM will take place in Switzerland, it is incorporated in the tax haven of Jersey and registered on the London Stock Exchange. It is a commodities giant whose actions the British people should feel responsible for.”1


After its merger with Xstrata in 2013, Glencore became the fourth largest miner in the world, with an annual turnover of US$232 billion and an estimated 110,000 workers worldwide. The company’s CEO Ivan Glasenberg’s net worth, according to Forbes, is US$5.8 billion. Glencore is headquartered in Baar, Switzerland, and incorporated in the tax haven of Jersey. It is registered on on the London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges. According to a Reuters article on the day the merger completed, “The combination of commodities trader Glencore and producer Xstrata ... creates a mining and trading powerhouse with over 100 mines around the world…and an oil division with more ships than Britain's Royal Navy.”

Glencore's name has become synonymous with the corporate abuse of power. Its historical roots are with the much criticised trader Marc Rich, and as a private company until 2011 it prided itself on doing business in developing countries where few others dared to tread. It stands accused of illegal dealings with rogue states, including apartheid South Africa. At the time of its launch as a public company the Times Business Editor, Ian King, described  Glencore as "...a business with dubious morals. It trades grain amid food riots and has been accused of profiteering and environmental offences in numerous poor and war-torn countries”.

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