An angry call today for the Australian Olympic Committee to dump Rio Tinto as the London Games medal supplier.

It happened when unionists staged a protest in Brisbane claiming Rio exploits its employees and fails the Olympic ideal of “fair play”.

Simone Peterson reports.


About 40 union members gathered outside the venue for Rio Tinto’s annual meeting.

The “Off the Podium” protesters are asking the Australian Olympic Committee to live up to the Olympic ideal of ‘fair play’ and dismiss Rio Tinto from supplying the base of metal for the games medals.

John Battams, Qld Council of Unions President: “This is a protest against the activities of Rio Tinto. Rio Tinto are not a good corporate citizen, they ‘re a very bad employer.”

The unions have written to the Australian Olympic chairman asking for an urgent meeting to discuss their claims.

Rio Tinto angered unions on New Year’s Eve in 2011, when 780 steelworkers were locked out of a large aluminium smelter in Quebec, Canada.

Two of them were at today’s protest.

Alexandre Frecheth, Canadian Metal Worker: ‘Rio Tinto and fair play in the same sentence doesn’t make sense to us, and we believe that someday some people are going to wake up and see the truth.”

Rio Tinto’s chairman was quick to deny claims.

Jan du Plessis, Rio Tinto Chairman: “I think we treat people with respect, and that’s why I think this is a wonderful company.”

The company’s Chief Executive said the company has a strong relationship with unions.

Tom Albanese, Rio Tinto Chief Executive: “We have unions all over the world, we have union agreements all over the world.”

The movement plans to continue protesting but won’t disrupt the games.

Simone Peterson, QUT News.