Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bus Driver Union: "Dump Veolia"

Boston: Corporation which Exploited Syria & Iraq Opposed by Black Bus Drivers' Union "Dump Veolia" campaign. Workers also helped "Free Aafia" Movement. Islam forbids Private Ownership of Natural Resources.

Islam often presents itself as the Middle Path between the two extremes of Capitalism and Communism. Islamic Law would eliminate the need for class struggle by creating a society where property owners are held accountable. Yet, no Islamic society exists in this century. What is important to understand however is that Islam considers environmental and mineral resources to belong to Allah. That means nobody can own them. An Islamic movement has to protect and utilize natural resources for the public benefit. Leftist speech refers to "The People" while Islamic speech invokes "Allah" - but essentially they are both saying the same thing: that water and other resources belong to the government and cannot be privatized.

We have been hearing the word "privatization" a lot as local governments for example Flint, Michigan take the water and sewage infrastructure out of public control and give it to a private company that then contaminates the water and destroys the pipes. The Flint move was touted as part of "austerity measures," even though the privatization actually cost the city much more. It was really about corporations lining their pockets with public money. When a government hires a "private" company to run basic civilian infrastructure, we are not talking about a small private company with scientific expertise to solve environmental or organizational problems. These "private" companies are actually huge international corporations, which are steadily consolidating their power to create what increasingly appears to be a global takeover of control that is able to overrule local governments and impose its will on the people via distribution or non-distribution of water, food, and resources. Islamic hadith prophesied the coming of such a global rule - Dajjal - that represents an evil force of oppression, which rules by controlling access to food, water, and other resources.

The poorest of the poor, from India to South America suffer from lack of access to clean water while their freedom of movement is often brutally hindered. These conditions do not arise because of the backwardness of the people but are due to deliberate maneuvers by the political elite. The poor are further degraded by unsafe working conditions and inadequate compensation from corporate bosses that prevent workers from organizing to demand improvements. The ongoing current struggle against multinational corporations is being spearheaded by labor unions and social justice groups in a wide variety of locations. Because of increasing global communication, activists involved in protests and strikes all over the world are not only able to offer solidarity but compare notes on the common global enemy and strategies for defeating it. An increasingly organized, informed and supported labor movement can only be a good thing.

The business connections between those building the wall between the US and Mexico and those building walls surrounding Palestinian areas are unsurprising, but not everyone is aware of the vast extent of the massive web of international corporate control of water, sewage, and transportation systems around the globe. A particularly evil French corporation named Veolia, which dates back to the time of Napoleon, made huge profits from French colonization of the West Indies and Algeria by building railways and water treatment plants. In 2013 the UN hired Veolia to destroy Syria's chemical weapons. Veolia thus profited off the Syrian civil war, while engaging in a political charade, as the UN continued to allow Assad to destroy infrastructure and mass murder political opponents using non-chemical weapons. Veolia is also profiting off the US occupation of Iraq, as the Iraqi Ministry has employed Veolia to build a water treatment plant.

This same company, Veolia, is currently engaged in privatizing the water and transportation systems in many cities around the US, committing fraud and embezzlement, contaminating water, reducing services to poor areas while increasing fees, and breaking union contracts.
In 2013, Veolia also took over the management of Boston Public School Bus transportation, sparking an ongoing struggle by the school bus drivers union USW Local 8751 against Veolia's unfair labor practices including payroll shortages, impossible demands on bus drivers, overcrowding of buses, failure to provide agreed upon benefits, and bad faith negotiations resulting in the attempted prosecution and termination of union organizers. Veolia's efforts to crush Boston's only black and immigrant-majority union failed due to hundreds of protesting bus drivers and incredible support from solidarity activists. This union's struggle is important on many levels because not only are they resisting a corporation that has already destroyed many other cities' water supply and workers' rights on several continents, but Boston bus drivers themselves have a decades-long history of supporting people's justice issues. They played a huge role on the front lines of desegregation, escorting black children to school through angry racist white mobs. Not only has the bus drivers' union stood against Israeli Apartheid but they did much of the organizing and provided the sound system for Boston's recent rally to support Dr. Aafia Siddique on March 8, 2016.

The Dump Veolia campaign is growing in many countries around the world from Chile to India, resulting in a surge of political and social networking. "Veolia is just one window to understand the need for joint struggle, how corporatization entangles us with past histories of oppression and present global resistances," writes Maia Brown for Stop Veolia Seattle. "When we understand the historical continuities, exemplified by Veolia, between early structures of Western Imperialism and industrialization and today's globalization and neoliberalism, we strengthen our ability to form new solidarities and communities of struggle." 

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