Saturday, February 25, 2012

Now on the Spot: Mining Industry

Mining Industry, Laggard on Worker Rights Abuses, Moving to Fore

First it was the garment/shoe industry epitomized by Nike that was in the hot seat. More recently it was the electronic gadget industry headed by Apple.

Now it is the global mining industry’s turn to come under scrutiny for its serious violations of worker rights. On March 4 – March 7, the world’s largest annual gathering of people, companies and organizations connected with mineral exploration will take place in Toronto, when the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada will seek to put the industry’s social responsibility at the front and center of the agenda.

Many mining multinationals operate very differently in developing countries from their behavior in home countries in North America and Australia, writes Paul Klein, the CSR reporter in Forbes. Klein lists some
issues to be explored in his article on “Why the Future of Mining Depends on Social Change”:

 How can companies improve social services for people impacted by mining operations?
 How will doing this support business objectives, such as increasing access to qualified help and reducing the risk of work stoppages?

To buttress his point, Klein quotes R. Anthony Hodge, president of the International Council on Mining and Metals: “It’s leadership of a different sort, very powerful but collaborative and inclusive, not domineering.”

Hodge conceded that there is s “minority” that strongly resists. Applying consumer pressure faces difficulties since the industry is made up of producers almost unknown to the public with no brand name equivalent to Nike or Apple. Read more!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Era of Social Justice? It's Up To Us

“We must commit to a new era of social justice.” Juan Somavia, director general of the International Labor Organization, declared in a message this month marking February 20 as the World Day of Social Justice.

“The world has choices,” Somavia concluded. “We can continue to apply policies which produced the present crisis and wait for at least 88 years to eradicate extreme poverty at the present rate. Or we can begin to conceive and realize a vision of society and of growth based on the dignity of human beings capable of delivering economic efficiency, sustainability and decent work for all in a new era of social justice.”

While acknowledging the many problems in the global and national economies, Somavia sees hope in a positive trend:

“The motifs of injustice and indignity are woven into the protests on streets, squares, blogs and tweets, and in less public expressions. The root causes may differ. But there is a widespread feeling that too many people, economies and societies have been on a rigged course leaving them on the losing end. “

On the negative side, he cited these statistics:

-- one out of three workers in the world -- some 1.1 billion – are either unemployed or living below the US$2 a day poverty line
-- 75 million youth are unemployed and nearly three times as likely as adults to be jobless
-- half of total employment is some form of vulnerable employment where women are worse affected

The World Day of Social Justice is a relative newcomer on the UN list of annual observances, having been established by the UN General Assembly in 2007.

The full text od Somavia’s message can be found at Read more!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

e-Focus on Global Job Crisis

UN asks outside experts to join e-discussion
on global job crisis

“The world employment outlook is grim. Unemployment stands at more than 200,000,000 and is increasing. Two workers in five worldwide live below the poverty line of $2 per person per day and many do not take home wages for their work. . . .Women and young people are disproportionately affected with youth unemployment two to three times the adult rate worldwide. Without concerted action at the global and national levels to address these challenges, growing economic and social exclusion might lead to greater unrest and instability.”

That’s how the top officers of the three top world organizations sized up the global siiuation early this year. Grim assessments by the three are not new; a strong determination by the trio – the United Nations, the UN Development Program, and the International Labor Organization -- to work together in a concerted fashion is unprecedented.

So is their invitation to outside experts to join an “e-discussion on Jobs, Decent Work, and Inclusive Growth” from February 8 to March 14. By the half way mark in that six-week period, more than <330 >persons had registered as participants.

“The year2012 will be an important turning point for addressing the worst consequences of the global jobs crisis,” Juan Somavia, director-general of the International Labor Organization, wrote in the February 2 letter also signed by the top officers of the UN Development Program and the United Nations.

In July, ministers from around the world will convene for the Annual Ministerial Review at the UN Economic and Social Council in New York, to asses their progress on the international development agenda.

“By interacting on-line with experts, practitioners, and scholars from around the world to formulate critical and concrete recommendations for the 2012 Annual Review,” the letter said, “you can help to ensure that the agreement reflects a diversity of contexts, experiences, and perspectives.”

If you want to join the e-discussion. you can register by writing Read more!