In September 2000, the London South East Regional Council of UCATT, the leading construction union in the UK, passed a resolution opposing the proposed Ilisu Dam development in southern Turkey:
The London South East Regional Council of UCATT unequivocally states our opposition to the proposed Ilisu Dam development in southern Turkey. In full accordance with UCATT policy and the debates at our national conference in Killarney we condemn the environmental, human rights, archaeological and political consequences of the project.
We oppose the £200million of UK government aid for the contract to be built by British contractor Balfour Beatty. The arguments about 'British jobs' should not made be at the expense of workers and peasants rights in the ex-colonial countries. We stand side by side with those fighting exploitation by British multi-nationals in the name of Globalisation. This is a trade union interpretation of an ethical foreign policy.
Being the premier trade union for construction workers, the London South East UCATT Regional Council issue a 'Green Ban' on the Ilisu Dam project and encourage all UCATT members and construction workers within our region to refuse to undertake any works on the contract.
Passed by London South East UCATT Regional Council meeting held Friday 22nd Sept 2000
The Ilisu Dam Campaign site provides the following Sample Union Motion.
The Ilisu Dam Campaign - the Role of the Trade Unions
The Ilisu Dam Campaign sees the role of the trade unions, both within Turkey and internationally, as vital if we are to halt the project from destroying the lives of over 36,000 people in the Kurdish region of Turkey.
Trade unionists active in the region strongly believe in an international trade union movement. They have been able to witness first hand the international co-operation of governments when it comes to assisting the Turkish government to oppress the Kurds. Witness the co-operation of governments to kidnap Abdullah Ocalan leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party and international arms sales that have led to Turkey being armed to the teeth in order top attack Kurdish villages. Witness the co-operation of governments to halt broadcasting of Med- TV, the Kurdish cable network.
Quite rightly, trade unionists in the Kurdish regions are asking, if these governments can come together, then why can’t the trade unions unite on an international scale? There is a slogan adopted by one of the rail unions in the region which simply reads: " Trade union internationalism to halt globalisation".
In addition, the trade unions in the region are calling for Kurdish and Turkish unity. One way of meeting this objective will be to use international solidarity as an example to all workers in Turkey. Such unity would greatly cut across much of the anti Kurd prejudice that exists in Turkey.
Kurdish and Turkish unity, together with an international campaign can halt the building of the Ilisu dam. The campaign urges all to join in this most important and vital endeavour.
Ilisu Model motion for Ilisu Dam Campaign
This Trade Union Branch / Region / Conference Notes:
1) that the Turkish government is planning to build the proposed Ilisu dam on the Tigris river in the Kurdish region of southeast Turkey. The dam will force the involuntary resettlement of over 25,000 people, the majority of them ethnic Kurds and will affect a further 11,000
2) that despite the project being on paper since 1984, there has been no resettlement plan agreed and there has been minimal consultation with those who will be moved
3) the Turkish government's wider strategy of ethnically cleansing the area of Kurds. In light of the systematic destruction of villages by the Turkish State, any resettlement or compensation plans from the Turkish government can only be greeted with scepticism
4) the context in which these events are taking place. Since 1984, the region where the dam is to be built has been devastated by an armed conflict between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Turkish state. Around 3 million people have been displaced, 3,000 villages partially or totally destroyed and over 30,000 people killed. Despite the September 1999 PKK decision to pursue a peaceful political solution to the as yet unresolved Kurdish question, many parts of the region remain a war zone
5) that the dam will also flood the town of Hasankeyf, a treasure trove of internationally significant archaeological remains dating back 10,000 years and the historical jewel in the crown of Kurdish culture. Once flooded the archaeological treasures of Hasankeyf would be lost to humanity forever. If the dam goes ahead, this would be an act of archaeological vandalism
6) that the dam, in conjuction with others in the region has the capacity to substantially control downstream flow of the river Tigris into Syria and Iraq. Syria, which relies on the downstream flow of the Tigris for its agriculture, has expressed concern that the dam will be used to pressure downstream states by restricting or cutting off water supplies. Already analysts state that the future wars in the area will be fought over water. In the past Turkey has threatened to block off water supplies to its neighbours
7) that alternatives to the dam exist. Power could be saved at a lower cost by modernising Turkey's transmission system. Alternative energy technologies such as energy efficiency and solar power offer far better prospects than the Ilisu dam
8) that the UK government is complicit in the oppression of the Kurdish people in the area. Firstly, it is "minded", according to Trade Secretary Stephen Byers, to grant an $200 million export credit guarantee to construction conglomerate Balfour Beatty to build the proposed dam.
Secondly, arms sales to Turkey are a major consideration for British companies and the government. Turkey is expanding its arms industry and has close links with numerous UK companies from Vickers to British Aerospace. Several deals for assault rifles and tanks have recently been concluded or are awaiting approval. These arms are used by the state against the Kurdish people.
This Branch / Region / Conference therefore condemns:
1) the proposals by the Turkish state to build the Ilisu dam and to ethnically cleanse the area
2) the continuing human rights abuses by the Turkish state
3) the role of the UK government and Balfour Beatty with regard to the export credit guarantee application
4) continuing arms sales by the UK to Turkey. Along with the UK government's complicity in assisting to get the dam built, this episode shatters once and for all any pretence of an ethical foreign policy.
This Branch / Region / Conference therefore resolves to :
1) support the "Ilisu dam campaign" and to make a donation to the campaign of £....
2) assist the campaign in raising public awareness of the human rights and environmental issues involved in the proposals
3) assist the campaign in conducting research into the implications of the dam
4) assist the campaign in communicating with officials (including government officials and elected representatives ) in Britain and abroad about the implications of the proposed dam
5) press for the UK Export Credit Guarantee department and other national export credit agencies to adopt mandatory environmental and development standards
6) publicise the dam's potential to exacerbate existing tensions in Kurdish areas and the threat it poses to peace and security in the region
7) assist the campaign in exposing double standards on the part of companies involved in the Ilisu dam project and to press for them to act abroad as they would at home.
31st Oct 2000 : UCATT unequivocally states opposition to Dam
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