The abandoned employees of the Gecamines
Although Gecamines (formerly known as the Union Minière) was, for a long time, the economic hub of Katanga and the primary source of foreign exchange earnings, it became a gigantic industrial wasteland during the chaos of the 1990s. It was only when peacetime resumed at the beginning of the following decade that the company began working again, under the aegis of the World Bank, following the transfer of its mineral deposits to private investors and a drastic downsizing of its workforce.
“This scheme, orchestrated by the World Bank, was clearly part of a neo-liberal agenda. The objective of drastically cutting staff levels to prevent the company from suffocating was certainly achieved, but contrary to claims made by a subsequent World Bank report, the reinsertion of former Gecamines employees into the local economic system has been far from successful. Many of them have been reduced to a state of poverty”, recalls Benjamin Rubbers.
(1) Le paternalisme en question. Les anciens ouvriers de la Gécamines face à la libéralisation du secteur minier katangais (RD Congo)* Ed. L’Harmattan, Africa Museum Tervuren.
* Paternalism examined . The former workers of the Gecamines in the aftermath of the liberalization of the mining sector in Katanga (DR of Congo)