Palestinian trade union movement salutes National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) London Transport Regional Council for joining Derail Veolia and Alstom Campaign
The Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (PTUC-BDS), a key member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), salutes the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) London Transport Regional Council for initiating a campaign “for Alstom to be excluded from working on projects, including London Underground and all Alstom work and administration to be brought back in house” over the role the company plays in building and operating the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail, which links illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory with Israel.
In London, Alstom built the current fleet of metro trains running on the London Underground Jubilee and Northern Lines. It continues to provide maintenance for the Northern Line fleet. In Occupied Palestine, Alstom helped to build and continues to a play major role in the operation of the Jerusalem Light Rail, which is explicitly designed to literally cement Israel’s grip on the illegal settlements, tie them more firmly to the state of Israel and facilitate their expansion. The UN Human Rights Council has condemned the project as illegal under international law. Adverts for staff for the Jerusalem Light Rail demanded applicants had completed Israeli military service, effectively barring Palestinians from applying.
The November 24 meeting of the RMT London Transport Regional Council voted unanimously in support of a motion that targets the French multinational for its involvement in the Jerusalem Light Rail project (full text of the resolution below).
This motion by the RMT London Transport Regional council is a significant next step in the escalating campaign against the company. The motion follows an educational campaign among the membership of the union where a public meeting on the situation in Palestine was organised and a political bulletin was issued featuring a contribution from the PTUC-BDS.
Unjum Mirza, Political Officer for London Transport Region of RMT, explained, “Prior to this motion our Region had fully supported the revolutionaries in Tunisia and Egypt. We sent a delegation to Egypt to celebrate May Day in Tahrir Square and we invited Kamal Abu Aita, now President of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, to London to join the public sector strikes on June 30 and to address meetings across London. At this inspiring historic revolutionary juncture, Palestine is, for us, the obvious next link in the chain. Not only did we seek to re-affirm our solidarity for the struggle for Palestinian liberation and justice, we wanted to give it a renewed sense of import as the political issue that centrally informs our struggles as it does in the Middle East and North Africa region.”
Rafeef Ziadah, who was a guest speaker on behalf of PTUC-BDS at the meeting where the motion was carried, added, “This is an important step for the Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign and importantly serves as a model for rank and file union campaigns that put emphasis on education within the union, as well as moving beyond rhetorical condemnation of corporate actions that support Israel’s illegal occupation, to active campaigning. We look forward to working with RMT on this campaign and urge other unions to follow suit”.
In 2008, the BNC and its partners launched the Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, over the two companies’ involvement in the building and operation of the Jerusalem Light Rail. Pressure from campaigners has forced financial institutions including the AP7 Swedish pension fund and the Dutch ASN bank to divest from Alstom. Last month, the BNC declared a long sought-after victory as Alstom lost the bid for the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project, worth $10 billion US dollars, after pressure from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Veolia has lost more than $12B worth of contracts following boycott activism in the UK, Sweden, Ireland and elsewhere.
Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS)
Alstom provided carriages for and was formerly part of the consortium that built the Jerusalem Light Rail and continues to own 80% of the company that is the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractor for the project, and is the full owner of Citadis Israel, which has the contract for providing maintenance for the project for 22 years.
For more on the Jerusalem Light Rail and its role in facilitating Israel’s violations of international law, see http://stopthewall.org/alstom-building-infrastructure-occupation
Full text of motion
Alstom-Jerusalem Light Railway:
1. To campaign for Alstom to be excluded from working on projects, including London Underground and all Alstom work and administration to be brought back in house, on account of its illegal and immoral involvement in colonising the Palestinian occupied territories and build a campaign involving the widest possible coalition of trade unions, human rights organisations and other groups that believe in social justice.
2. To write an open letter to Alstom, asking them about the reality of JLR, the effects it will have on the people of East Jerusalem and asking if it is not hypocritical to involve itself in JLR while claiming to have “ethical” employment & social policies.
3. To apply pressure to the British, London and local governments not to allow Alstom to expand its operations in Britain while it is engaged in JLR. The UN Human Rights Commission, has denounced the JLR project for being “in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.”
4. To send this motion on to LTRC Exec with a request to invite Rafeef Ziadah of the Palestine Trade Union Coalition to the November LTRC mtg, to other branches, regional councils and the RMT AGM.
Passed Unanimously: London Transport Regional Council 24/11/11
End text of motion
Alstom Involvement on London Underground
Alstom built and maintains the 106 trains operating on London’s Northern Line. The Northern Line is Europe’s busiest railway line, carrying over 800,000 passengers per day.
Alstom has completed fitment of new signalling technology and control on the London Jubilee Line to increase the frequency of the trains.