Maritime workers gather outside the offices of Rio Tinto in Collins Street Melbourne to protest the company locking out miners in western Californian town of Boron.
The protest comes as key representatives of mining and maritime unions from around the world gather in Palmsdale, California to develop initiatives that link workers from the mines to the ships.
The Melbourne solidarity action follows a joint statement by Australian mining and maritime unions calling for international action against Rio Tinto to be top of the agenda at the US meeting.
Rio Tinto subsidiary, US Borax and Chemical Corp. locked the gates on 560 US miners, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, in Boron, California on the eve of Rio announcing US $4.872 billion dollar profit.
"Our solidarity goes to ILWU Boron miners and their families in particular who have suffered these attacks on the morning of January 31 for defending workers' rights and refusing to capitulate to the bullying tactics of Rio whose agenda is to break the union in order to slash wages and conditions," the statement signed by Paddy Crumlin, MUA and Andrew Vickers, CFMEU (mining) read. "Rio Tinto hired vanloads of security guards to storm the mine while helicopters flew overhead only last October. It is a company that has been taken to task for abuses of human rights, indigenous land rights, workers' rights and damage to the environment and local communities in Australia, Africa, Bougainville, Indonesia and Iceland.
"On the eve of Mining and Maritime meeting in Palmdale, California on February 15, we call for worldwide solidarity actions in support of the locked out workers at Rio Tinto to be placed at the top of the agenda."
The Mining and Maritime Initiative represents five million workers in the mining, maritime, manufacturing, road and rail transport, energy and construction industries chain from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, South Africa, USA, Japan, England, Switzerland, East Timor, Canada, Vanuatu, United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, Papua New Guinea and Sweden.
Media contact: Kevin Bracken, MUA Victoria Branch Secretary tel:0400 077 563