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Outsourced drivers take fight for rights to Rio Tinto

12 Sep 2019
Drivers working for NFI Industries in the United States have taken their fight for labour rights to the international offices of the mining company Rio Tinto.

NFI supplies road transport and warehousing services to a range of clients in the Los Angeles area. Notorious for its abysmal labour standards, the company has become embroiled in a series of industrial disputes, lawsuits and formal complaints to government agencies over wage theft and poor working conditions. These issues are linked to NFI’s deliberate misclassification of drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

This week, NFI drivers organised by the ITF-affiliated International Brotherhood of Teamsters have engaged in multiple actions to pressure the company into improving its standards. Yesterday, a delegation of workers and union leaders travelled to the London office of major NFI client Rio Tinto to urge the mining company to act.

Rio Tinto maintains a code of conduct which explicitly guarantees the fundamental rights of workers in its supply chain. NFI’s non-compliance with the code was raised by unions at Rio Tinto’s April 2019 AGM, and the management agreed to address this. However, so far no action has been taken.

Rio Tinto executives agreed to meet with representatives from the Teamsters and ITF and the two sides engaged in a productive dialogue about issues in the company’s supply chain. We look forward to seeing the action that Rio Tinto will take to address these labour violations.

Jeff Farmer, Teamsters organising director, said: “NFI Industries holds its workers in total contempt, as demonstrated by long trail of strikes and legal and regulatory action the company has faced. This week we’ve taken the fight to the company and made sure its clients are well aware of their responsibility to safeguard labour standards.”

Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary, said: “Companies at the top of transport supply chains need to recognise their responsibility to all the workers that contribute to their profit margins. We’re heartened by our engagement with Rio Tinto and we expect the company to enforce its own code of conduct and bring NFI into line.”

ITF inland transport secretary Noel Coard sends a solidarity message to NFI Industries drivers organising with the Teamsters.

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