Human rights campaigners are celebrating after the West London Waste Authority (‘WLWA’) excluded French multinational Veolia from a £485 million contract covering 1.4 million inhabitants of the London boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond-upon-Thames, for treatment of residual domestic waste.
The reasons behind the decision by the WLWA to exclude Veolia are commercially confidential but the impact of human rights campaigners should not be under-estimated.
Over the last six months campaigners lobbied Councillors and Council officials to exclude Veolia from the contract and submitted a letter to the WLWA – signed by nearly 600 local residents – documenting Veolia’s direct complicity in grave breaches of international and humanitarian law in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Campaigners pointed out that:
Veolia helped build and is involved in operating a tram-line which links Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.
Veolia takes waste from Israel and illegal Israeli Settlements and dumps this on Palestinian land at the Tovlan landfill.
The letter also gave evidence of Veolia’s racist recruitment policies in Israel, as well as the company’s operation of buses on Highway 443 which Palestinians are prohibited from using.
Veolia’s failure to win the WLWA contract is a heavy blow for the company because it owns a domestic waste depot in the area covered by the WLWA and so should have been ideally placed to meet some of the necessary criteria for the WLWA tender.
Worse still for Veolia, this blow comes only six months after it failed to win Ealing Council’s £300m new ‘Clean and Green’ contract even though Veolia already did much of the work under the old contract. When bidding for that contract Veolia had faced determined opposition from Palestinian rights campaigners over its track record in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Campaigners across the world are focussed on Veolia because it is a key target of the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (‘BDS’) campaign for Palestinian rights and which is led by Palestinian civil society organisations.
Sarah Colborne, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK , commented :
‘Complicity in infringing human rights and international law has become an expensive business for Veolia. Other companies please note: There is a strong, determined and popular international campaign for justice for Palestinians; if you aid Israel’s oppression of Palestinians your business will suffer just like Veolia’s’