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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Another Victory for BDS as Veolia Loses £485m Contract in West London









Another Blow to Veolia

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)
PRESS Release: London,UK 23 December 2011

Veolia Takes Severe Blow As It Fails To Win
485 Million Pound Contract In West London

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'.

Ends

Link for Press Release
Veolia Takes Severe Blow As It Fails To Win 485 Million Pound Contract In West London

“Veolia is paying a high price for its complicity in Israel’s occupation and violations of international law,” stated a press release from the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) on Wednesday, after the French urban systems corporation lost yet another contract this time in Ealing, London. The contract is worth £300 million ($490 million USD) in total over 15 years, and “is even more significant given the fact that Veolia had the previous parks maintenance contract,” PSC added.

The decision to bump Veolia from Ealing’s contract was made after British activists met with city councillors and council officials and provided details about Veolia’s ongoing complicity with the Israeli goverment’s light rail project in Jerusalem, which aims to connect West Jerusalem with illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Several months ago, Veolia lost a major garbage collection contract elsewhere in London, and in March, PSC reported that a contract was awarded to an alternate company after sustained pressure on city officials by local BDS activists to cancel Veolia’s bid. Veolia also lost a contract in Richmond in February, Edinburgh in December 2010, and Sandwell in 2009.

PSC’s press release from 3 August reads in full:

In another victory for Palestinian rights, Ealing Council in London has failed to select Veolia for a comprehensive tender for its domestic refuse, street cleaning and parks maintenance contract. The contract is worth approx £300m in total over 15 years and one of Ealing Council’s largest single contracts. This is even more significant given the fact that Veolia had the previous parks maintenance contract.

Veolia remains involved in the building and future operation of a light-rail tramway linking Israel’s illegal settlements with West Jerusalem, facilitating Israel’s ‘grave breaches’ of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Veolia Transport Israel also runs two bus services serving the same function as the tramway: supporting and consolidating illegal settlements and tying them more closely into Israel.

Sarah Colborne, PSC Director, said: “Veolia’s loss of this contract, following its failure in a number of significant bids in Britain and internationally, is a clear sign that Veolia is paying a high price for its complicity in Israel’s occupation and violations of international law. West London PSC, together with other groups and individuals supporting Palestinian rights, wrote and met councillors from across the political spectrum and council officials, and submitted detailed factual and legal analysis. Veolia must realise that until it pulls out of all its activities serving Israel ’s illegal settlements, it will continue to be a target for the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). Through BDS, those committed to peace and justice are sending a message – we don’t buy into Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.”

1. In April 2010 the UN Human Rights Council declared the tramway and its operation to be illegal (A/HRC/RES/13/7 of 14 April 2010). The resolution was passed 44 to 1, with the UK, France and all the EU members of the Council voting in favour. The operation of the tramway is precisely what Veolia has a contract to do.

2. Veolia is trying to sell its shares in the tramway. But the deal would involve Veolia Transport Israel in providing technical assistance in running the tramway for 5 years.

3. Through its subsidiary TMM, Veolia Transport Israel has also been operating the Tovlan landfill site in the occupied Jordan Valley for many years, supporting Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank by taking their refuse. There has also been a report of Tovlan receiving refuse from Israel itself, the occupier dumping its rubbish on the occupied. Veolia says that it is selling Tovlan to a local buyer and may have already done so, but far from ending Veolia’s complicity, the deal will compound it, for the intended sale is to Massu’a, the nearby illegal Israeli settlement. Moreover Veolia will continue its involvement by providing the settlement with advice concerning Tovlan.

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