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27 Feb 2024

Iindustri All

Lesotho: Participants from the Global Diamond Network gathered to look into making the diamond sector more accountable for human rights violations

‘Beyond the sparkle: advancing workers' rights in the diamond sector’ 23 February 2024

The diamond industry value chain includes mining, rough trading, cutting, polishing, manufacturing, jewelry setting and retailing. The 20 participants, from the Global Diamond Network came from diamond mining countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The other participants came from Belgium, home to Antwerp, a historic hub for diamond traders, cutters, and polishers. Reports from the mining countries on violations of workers’ rights and decent work deficits which included precarious working conditions of low wages, absence of job security, long working hours, gender discrimination, violations of maternity protection, and union busting and bashing. The meeting heard that diamond mining companies also failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment and did not comply with health and safety standards.

…The network encouraged unions to join the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) and to use the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining as it is comprehensive and makes mining companies accountable through audits and assessments. Additionally, the meeting discussed cooperation with non-governmental organizations on human rights due diligence. However, the network urged unions to remain focused on making the diamond industry comply with national and international labour standards. Emphasizing the developmental potential of diamond mining in the Global South, the network highlighted the need for mining companies to engage in responsible mining practices and ethical sourcing to contribute to job creation, economic growth, and sustainable development.

…Commending the network, Annelies Deman, Federal Secretary of Algemene Centrale ABVV – Centrale Generale FGTB said, “I met and engaged with comrades who are doing a great job in the diamond industry, shared our challenges, learned from each other, and set up priority action points for the future of the network.” May Rathakane, IDUL, general secretary said: “We are grateful for the support and solidarity that we received for our organizing drive to unionize Lesotho’s diamond workers.” “As trade unions we must not tolerate unfair labour practices in the diamond industry and must use collective bargaining, global framework agreements, and ILO standards as tools to attain decent working conditions,” said Mpho Phakedi, the National Union of Mineworkers, acting general secretary.