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Veolia withdraws bid for North London waste contract under boycott pressure

During the last 2 years, a great campaign by the No to Veolia Action Group (NO2VAG) has worked hard in pressuring councilors to exclude Veolia from a £4.7 Billion contracts in north London. They have also submitted letters to North London Waste Authority (NLWA) documenting the illegal actions this Israeli profiteer has been committing and collected a petition signed by several thousand local people against selection of the company.

Less than 2 months ago, Veolia failed to win Canterbury Council’s 40 Million GBP contract after facing determined opposition from the local community, including Palestinian rights campaigners, over its complicity with illegal activity in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In an announcement published 21st Dec, the NLWA confirmed Veolia Environmental Services had withdrawn its attempt to submit final tenders for both NLWA’s waste services and fuel use contracts. Veolia had been shortlisted for both contracts.

The news came after increasing resistance to the bid by No2VAG, headed by Yael Kahn who said,

“As the chair of Islington Friends of Yibna (IFY) my focus is on occupied Gaza, especially Rafah where Yibna refugee camp is. So when I found out that Veolia was bidding for contracts in north London, which includes Islington, I was reluctant to get involved. This is because the reason so many are outraged about Veolia is the infrastructure it builds in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. But my dilemma became more personal when there was no sign of a campaign building up. I could not envisage that my own home borough, Islington, would become complicit with the company that facilitates the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. I took further encouragement when Palestinians from Gaza stated that in spite of the siege and the Israeli bombardments, it was important for them that Veolia was blocked.

“Veolia got the message that this campaign was too strong for it to ignore and made it impossible for it to win the colossal £4.7 Billion contracts in north London. We won. Veolia pulled out. This is the biggest victory yet against Veolia and I’m so pleased we succeeded in blocking it in north London. We have received a notification that Veolia Environmental Services will not be submitting final tenders for either NLWA’s waste services or fuel use contracts. Now, Veolia dumps itself from NLWA contract bids.”

I spoke with Yael Kahn and asked her if there was proof that the campaign is what led to Veolia pulling out the bid. Kahn responded “We have been informed by a few councillors from across the 7 north London boroughs that it was our campaign that drove the latest changes in the NLWA plans and Veolia’s withdrawal. We always believed that Veolia was desperate to avoid any publicity that would expose its complicity with the Israeli violations of international law and that is exactly what had occurred in the last few weeks. There is no doubt in my mind that this was one of the key reasons it withdrew, as well as our campaign exposing the technical shortfalls of its solutions.”

In response to this same question of proof No2VAG spokesperson Caroline Day responded by email: “It is significant that Veolia will not provide any reasons for their withdrawal. If the withdrawal had been for legitimate reasons, the company would have immediately made such a justification of its costly abandonment of the lucrative contract. Moreover, it has been clear throughout the campaign, especially during the suppression of the deputation, that the company and its Zionist supporters wish to avoid public scrutiny of its bad business in the illegal settlements.The fact that the campaign had recently attained such wide coverage, support from the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine and charity War on Want and had revealed damaging information to the public, all suggests that Veolia was keen to limit the damage further scrutiny that the No2VAG would have brought to bear in the coming months”

Why Veolia?

In a letter sent to the NLWA from the Coalition of Women for Peace in Occupied Palestine, “Veolia Environment and its subsidiaries are involved in violations of international law and human rights and have a record of discriminatory practices… Civil society organizations have been campaigning to encourage Veolia to cease from these practices… and its blatant disregard of ethical guidelines and international standards of social corporate responsibility.”

The letter outlined many unethical activities by Veolia, such as its involvement in the construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail which has been designed to connect the illegal settlements built on East Jerusalem with the Israeli territory of West Jerusalem. This violates International Humanitarian Law and the fourth Geneva Convention, article 49, regarding the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. This is not the end of Veolia’s deep complicity with Israeli settlement activity since the company also operates bus services to illegal settlements as well as dump waste on Occupied Land at the Tovlan landfill.

Veolia also published a racist classified advertisement for drivers that specified “completion of military service” and Hebrew as a mother tongue. It also announced that it would operate “kosher” train routes – segregated sitting areas for men (in the front of the train) and for women (in the back of the train).

Read the full article here: http://mondoweiss.net/2012/12/withdraws-contract-pressure.html

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