Games organisers welcome Rio Tinto despite reports of environmental damage and human rights violations


International outrage is growing over Rio Tinto’s involvement in the London Olympics following the shocking revelation that the mining giant has been allowed to “break” LOCOG rules which are aimed at making the London 2012 games the most sustainable ever.

Rio Tinto, who is supplying the metal for the Olympic medals, is the only Olympic supplier that was able to start production without having an audit in place, the watchdog Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 said.

Ken Neumann, Canadian director of the United Steelworkers (USW) union, said: “It is shocking that Rio Tinto was not audited by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), despite numerous red flags.

“For years, credible organisations have reported environmental damage and human rights violations by Rio Tinto in its operations around the world. Rio Tinto’s Olympic presence – and the lack of an audit – clearly undermines the legitimacy of the process adopted by LOCOG and the intent to make the London Games the most sustainable ever.”

USW filed its own formal complaint against Rio Tinto with LOCOG, which was denied. The complaint cited the lockout of 780 steelworkers by Rio Tinto in Alma, Quebec, as a violation of the Ethical Trading Initiative. Unite has also condemned the decision of LOCOG to wave through Rio Tinto’s involvement at the Olympics.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “It is a disgrace that LOCOG can bend the rules like this to accommodate a company that has locked out its workforce in Alma, Canada. It seems that the interests of a global metals and mining group come before working families and the spirit of the Olympics.

“Workers Uniting intends to continue to fight to get Rio Tinto to end this lock out at every opportunity.”

USW members in Utah who produced the metal for the Olympic medals have also called for Rio Tinto to be thrown off the Olympic podium.

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