'Workers Rights' Tag Archive

Sep 17 2008

Alcoa in Texas Lawsuit, Workers Laid Off


Alcoa's Rockdale smelterAlcoa has laid off 300 workers in it’s Rockdale smelting facilities in Texas after idling some of the facility. Another 100 contract workers will be affected. The aluminium giant says this is necessary due to unreliable power supply from the energy supplier that is contracted for the smelter, Luminant. That company claims Alcoa is using them as an excuse to fire workers to drive up profitability. Read More

Aug 22 2008
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Deaths at Reykjavik Energy Due to Harsh Circumstances of Low-Paid Foreign Workers


Two days ago two Romanian workers suffocated while wielding pipes for the geothermal expansion project at Hellisheidi, east of Reykjavik (1). The Hellisheidi power plant is being expanded by Reykjavik Energy company. The campaign group Saving Iceland believes that serious accidents are almost unavoidable due to the extreme circumstances the Eastern European workers in Iceland are forced to work in.
At the construction site for the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant expansion, the labour intensive work is done by Polish and Rumanian workers. These live in a work camp on the construction site. The Rumanian pipe wielders of which two died are working for Altak, a contractor of Reykjavik Energy. Read More

Aug 11 2008

Injured Century and Elkem Workers Forced Back to Work


According to the workers union of Akranes it is standard procedure that Century Aluminum – Norðurál and Elkem-Icelandic Alloys at Hvalfjordur push injured workers to come back to work as soon as possible. They do it quite roughly, even though the workers have medical papers proving that they are not able to work at all, MBL.is reports. Read More

Jul 25 2008
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Saving Iceland Invades Landsvirkjun for Alcoa’s Severe Human Rights Abuses


PROTESTS AGAINST LANDSVIRKJUN’S PLANNED DAMS IN ÞJÓRSÁ RIVER AND THE CONNECTION BETWEEN LANDSVIRKJUN AND ALCOA

REYKJAVÍK  – Today 30 activists from the international campaign Saving Iceland have invaded the Landsvirkjun (national power company) building (Háaleitisbraut 68) to disrupt work. Earlier this morning Saving Iceland activists dammed the house of Landsvirkjun director Friðrik Sophusson and nailed an eviction notice to his door.

“We oppose Landsvirkjun’s intentions to build the four Þjórsá and Tungnaá dams for Rio Tinto at Straumsvik (1,2), despite the referendum. They are also negotiating to dam Skjálfandafljót and Jökuslá á Fjöllum for ALCOA’s planned Bakki smelter (3,4). This is on top of the mess they are making of Þeistareykir (5) and the deep drilling into Mount Krafla, right next to the tourist attraction. LV are doing this for a company that is a self-admitted arms dealer (6) and has been in the news again and again for it’s gross abuse of human rights. (7) This company should not be welcomed by Landsvirkjun,” says Jaap Krater from Saving Iceland.

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Feb 28 2006
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ALCOA Runcorn Factory in UK Blocked by Environmental Activists


At the time of writing around thirty protesters are blockading the entrance to the Runcorn Alcoa factory near Manchester. Seven people have locked onto each other with armtubes and for nearly three hours all traffic to and from the factory has been blockaded.

Alcoa are being targeted because of their involvement in the Karahnjukar dam projects. The campaign is growing and intensifying as the Icelandic government and Alcoa’s plans for devastation of the Icelandic landscape expand. Tomorrow Alcoa will announce whether they intend to build another smelter in the North of Iceland, a decision we feel should be made by the people of Iceland rather than a foreign corporation.

Recently a third of the workers at the Runcorn factory have been made redundant, according to them to get cheaper labour. Workers passing by our protest have all been very polite and many have wished us luck. The protest has been peaceful.

Interview with one of the protesters, footage and more still photographs from the protest is available. Please contact: Email deleted[Ed.]

Oct 25 2005
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Interesting Stuff About Treatment of Polish Workers


Interesting stuff here and here.

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Aug 12 2005

Selective Justice at Kárahnjúkar Says Björk’s Father


Gudmundur Gunnarsson, leader of the Icelandic Electrician’s Union and Björk`s dad, attacks state over reaction to protests and lack of action on workers rights:

Iceland Review
8/03/2005

Oskar the fat pig 

Father of Iceland’s most famous citizen criticized the government’s lack of initiative when worker’s rights are violated at Kárahnjúkar, the controversial hydro-electric development in East Iceland.

Impregilo, the Italian construction group building dams and tunnels at Kárahnúkar, has been allowed to break laws, for months at a time, says pop star Björk Gudmundsdóttir’s father, Gudmundur Gunnarsson, leader of the Icelandic Electrician’s Union. He believes that neither the police nor the government act when worker’s rights are violated but resources are always on hand during protests against the government-backed hydro-electric dam.

Gudmundur says that employees at the Kárahnúkar power plant have at times operated equipment without valid licenses, including driving without drivers licenses. Employees have been put in life threatening situations and violated in various ways. Impreglio has gotten away with repeatedly breaking the law which the government has chosen to ignore. Read More

Apr 17 2005

SOS Saving Iceland Audio Interview


The founder of Saving Iceland/NatureWatch, Olafur Pall Sigurðsson, interviewed here on Radio IndyMedia.org.

 

 http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/04/3…

Mar 04 2005
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Ice Burks! – Schnews


This article served as a follow-up to  the ‘Power Driven’ article published in the Guardian in November 2003.

Schnews, 4th March 2005, Issue 487

Super-cool Iceland, the eco-tourist’s wet dream, right? Maybe not for much longer if the Icelandic government has its way.

You see, they’ve got a cunning plan to turn the whole country into a heavy industry paradise for all sorts of multinational scum, damming and flooding and generally trashing nature to power up a bunch of giant aluminium smelters and other slight blots on the landscape.

This is not an early April fool – it’s already started. The construction of the giant Karahnjukar dam in the Icelandic Highlands – one of Europe’s last surviving wildernesses – is well under way. Landsvirkjun (the national power company, a government quango) has a raft of further projects that would see 25% of the entire country dam affected by 2020: some vision.

Karahnjukar and most of Landsvirkjun’s future schemes harness glacial rivers fed by Vatnajokull – the biggest non-arctic glacier in the world. This glacier is the heart of a fantastically intricate eco-system: barren red and black Martian landscapes; geo-thermal springs and pools hot enough to take a bath in; rivers banked by deep, springy emerald green moss woven with tiny red and yellow flowers where no-one’s ever walked; the glacier’s own fantastic ice caves; seal breeding grounds on the black sand deltas to the north. All this will be destabilized and damaged forever if these dam projects are allowed to happen.

An international protest camp this summer aims to halt this war on nature. It’s going to be one hell of a struggle since the Icelandic government seems determined to push these projects through, no matter what opposition it faces.

What’s going on at Karahnjukar demonstrates the way that government operates. When plans for the mega-project were first submitted to the National Planning Agency (NPA) in 2001 they were rejected because of the “substantial, irreversible, negative environmental impact” the dam would have. All the experts agreed with this verdict (see IRN’s report linked below). But the environment minister overturned the NPA’s ruling and declared that in her opinion the project was environmentally acceptable – of course she is suitably qualified to decide on environmental issues – she’s a physiotherapist! There were a few financial hiccups with banks getting all ethical but Barclays bravely stepped forward with the necessary dosh – even though they’d signed up to the Equator Principles which demand “sound environmental management practices as a financing prerequisite.”

Work started in July 2003, with Italian bully-boys Impregilo (construction arm of Fiat, currently charged with corruption in Lesotho and ‘financial irregularities’ at home) and a terrifying squadron of Caterpillar bulldozers began to claw up and dynamite the fragile sub-arctic tundra. Reindeer, arctic foxes, other small animals and thousands of bird species that lived there fled in fear.

FROZEN ASSETS

All electricity produced at Karahnjukar is contracted to a massive Alcoa aluminium smelter (being built by Bechtel, due to be operational in 2007) which itself will pollute and ruin Reydarfjordur, a pristine eastern fjord. A Reykjavik court recently ruled that Alcoa’s planning permission for this monstrosity isn’t valid, but that probably won’t stop them as they immediately appealed to the – allegedly – rigged High Court.

Karahnjukar won’t benefit Icelanders at all: none of the electricity is destined for the national grid and cos there’s little unemployment in the region no Icelander’s gonna want a nice healthy job at the smelter thanks.

Yet the cost to the nation is enormous: independent experts say the economy is at risk (see IRN report), it has cost $1 billion so far and is likely to cost more – the electricity for Alcoa is for a price linked to the changing prices of Aluminium on London Metal Market…in other words no guarantee it’ll ever make a profit.

The environment suffers more by the day. They’ve already blown part of Dimmugljufur – Iceland’s Grand Canyon – to smithereens, and if they fill up the reservoir (scheduled 2007), 65.5 square kilometres of pristine wilderness will be completely submerged. This land includes birthing grounds for the majority of Iceland’s reindeer and Ramsar ‘protected’ nesting sites for endangered species such as pink-footed geese, and Gyrfalcon. Sixty waterfalls will be lost as will a range of sediment ledges – judged completely unique in the world by scientists studying global warming – which record 10,000 years of geological and climate change. And this vast projected reservoir would extend right onto the glacier itself, which is breaking up because of global warming. Wouldn’t giant icebergs trucking up to the dam be a bit – er – dangerous? Yep. And it gets worse – the dam is being built over a seismic fault!

airial

Earthquake zone at Kárahnjúkar volcanoes
White lines = Ground rock cracks
Yellow lines = Erosion of sediments. Erosion is parallel
to cracks: Sediments are cracked, cracking is still active
.
In 2003, Landsvirkjun’s chief, Fridrik Sophusson, was asked what would happen if there was an earthquake under the dam. “It would burst,” he smiled calmly. “A catastrophic wall of water would annihilate everyone in Egilsstadir [the nearest town] and all the neighbouring farms would be swept away.” Icelandic Tsunami anyone? “It won’t happen,” he added smugly. Yet in August 2004 there were continuous earthquakes at Karahnjukar for several days.

Environmentalists also warned that silt residues left by changing water levels round the projected reservoir would dry to a fine dust which the wind would carry onto local farmland. This was dismissed, yet last summer silt left in the wake of unexpected surges in the newly diverted glacial river produced just such devastating dust storms.

But none of this makes any difference: while everyone else in the ‘developed world’ is busy dismantling dams, Iceland’s rulers just can’t get enough. There are plans to dam every major glacial river in the country. Rio Tinto Zinc are reportedly salivating over the chance to devastate the North of the country, while Alcan and Century (who’ve already got smelters near Reykjavik) are keen to expand their deathly shadow in the south.

Ironically, the government- via its tourist board – still invites visitors to enjoy the “unspoilt pure natural beauty” it’s hell-bent on destroying! So how do they get away with it? Well, Iceland has a tiny population (290,000) and power is concentrated in the hands of a few very wealthy families who control politics, industry and the media. Scientists, journalists, anyone who asks questions is swiftly discredited and then sacked.

But it’s not all bad news and you can even help. A really vigorous and up-for-it grass-roots environmental movement is emerging, determined to stop Icelandic nature being pimped to the highest bidder. It’s a David v. Goliath battle and the call is out for international support.

If you are up for peacefully showing your solidarity with some of the most fantastic nature on our planet, check out www.savingiceland.org and joining the protest camp summer 2005.

http://www.schnews.org.uk/archive/news487.htm

Also in pdf.

Jul 21 2004
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The Bad Neighbor – Alcoa’s Dirty Dealing in Central Texas by Esther Cervantes


0704cover“…some Alcoa Rockdale employees… were offered a choice between early retirement or transfer to Iceland.” So much for job creation for the people of Eastern Iceland!

Dollars and Sence
The Magazine for Economic Justice

Issue #254, July/August 2004

Earlier this year, the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) broke ground on the $83 million Three Oaks lignite mine outside Austin. The mine will provide coal to Alcoa’s massive facility near the town of Rockdale: an aluminum smelter plus the three power plants that fire it. In addition to the lignite, Alcoa intends to remove groundwater from the new mine (as well as from its existing mine at Sandow, near Rockdale) and ship it to the city of San Antonio, more than 100 miles away. In a company report celebrating the Rockdale smelter’s first 50 years, manager Geoff Cromer thanks the facility’s neighbors for “the strong support we have received from the community”—but that’s less than half the story. The “several hundred people” who “took time from their jobs” to attend numerous public hearings and “provide comment in support of Alcoa and this project” were far outnumbered by those who struggled against it for four years. Read More

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