28 June, 2007

Hunger Strike

Day Two. I had planned to tell you today the latest news about the relocation of the new dolphinarium. It is supposedly being moved from Sandy Ground to Blowing Point. But, humans are more important, in some respects, than dolphins. We have a developing humanitarian crisis in Anguilla that needs to be told. It involves the rebellion by the Indian slave labour that our government has permitted the KOR Group and Viceroy Resorts to import into Anguilla.

It was at 3:00 pm yesterday Tuesday 26 June that the police stopped the Indian workers at South Hill. They had been walking into the Valley to complain to the Labour Commissioner. Iwandai and Heartbeat Radio broadcast live for some hours from the scene. Eventually, the Commissioner of Police relented. He permitted their Anguillian sympathisers to drive the Asians to the Labour Commissioner’s office in The Valley. There were then at least fifty of them. The Labour Commissioner met with a few of their representative. There, they told their tale of the unbearable conditions which they were treated to at Barnes Bay. Wages of US$180.00 per month. Meat for dinner just once per week. Work-related injuries that remained untreated. Eleven-hour days, six days per week, in the blazing sun. Eight men bunking in a container in the container village to which they were confined. Anguillians were affected by their plight. Many of them had lost their better paying jobs when these Asians had been brought in to replace them at Viceroy. That did not stop them congregating in an unmistakable demonstration of support outside the Labour Commissioner’s offices.

That is where I found them at 3:00 pm the following day, Wednesday. When I came back from the dentist’s torture chamber in Marigot, I took a pass by the Labour Commissioner's office. I thought I would find them gone, and the problem solved by that time. I was wrong. Their numbers had increased from the original fifty to about one hundred and fifty of them.

They were squatting in and around an incomplete building across the road from the Labour Commissioner’s office. Someone had provided a tent for some shelter. I was told they had been there all day. They had spent the previous night asleep on the bare ground. They had no food, nor toilet facilities. They had a supply of water brought by sympathetic Anguillians. It was squalid and heart wrenching.

I was told the Chief Minister had not yet returned from the meeting in Cayman Islands of Overseas Territories' Chief Ministers. I believe he is still there telling them how he was the highest paid Chief Minister or Prime Minister in the West Indies. The other heads of the OECS, I am told, are not speaking to him any more. Without any provocation, he likes to remind them that his remuneration is double that of most of them. It is certainly immeasurably higher than the wages of the Indian labourers at Viceroy.

Tomorrow, the dolphins.


  1. Bravo for telling this story - the world will be told starting NOW

  2. The overseer or foreman or whatever names he goes by of Carrilion COnstruction West Indies Limited work permit must b erevoked immedialtely.

    Carrillion PLC is a public company trading in the UK. I willcheck to see if there stock take a hit with this slave labour condition. I wil make sure it does.

  3. Anguillians keep the vigil with the Indian workers, be careful what you have allowed to happen to these poor people. GOD WILL JUDGE ANGUILLA HARD AND WE WOULD BE TREATED THE SAME WAY. TAKE HEED.

  4. Carillion is the construction arm of the group which used to be Tarmac. During the early 1990s it was the focus for direct action campaigns by anti-motorway campaigners, especially at Twyford Down. Dealing with these issues on an ad hoc basis absorbed substantial senior management time. Since then the group has addressed sustainability issues and is now a leader in social responsibility in the construction industry. Initiatives range from buying timber from sources certified as sustainable, to incorporating sustainability in employee appraisals, and working with local communities when developing major construction projects.

    The benefits are very tangible. One of them is a contract for the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Its director, Professor Charles Stirton, said: ‘They won the contract because they talked about relationships with the local community and leaving the environment in as good a condition as when they started. They thought this was important - no-one else mentioned it.’

    Investing in Social Responsibility
    Risks and Opportunities
    Association of British Insurors, 2001

  5. "The violation of Human Rights is not an issue that is directly relevant to Carillion’s activities. Carillion assists in the delivery of human rights through our involvement in the provision of public facilities (hospitals and prisons) and fair employment practices with grievance and whistle blowing procedures. Our overseas operations are governed by a business ethics policy and before we operate in a new country, we follow a risk assessment which includes socio-political and security issues. However, we realise that there is potential for us to impact upon Human Rights further down in our supply chain. As far as we are aware, the organisations from which we directly source materials, products and services are not directly responsible for violation of indigenous rights, or forced labour. As you can see from our Supplier performance pages, Carillion is actively improving its supply chain management."

    Links to further details provided here:

  6. After reading and listening to the events with the Asian workers yesterday and again today, I've made a decision to come out of the shadows of advocacy and stand in solidarity of all those Anguillians who stood beside the workers ensuring they were given the opportunity to state their mind concerning their working conditions.

    I want to thank Percy for raising this issue many months ago and I Pray God forgive me for not speaking out about the inhumanity of Carrilion Construction (West Indies) Limited activities on Anguilla. I want to also commend Lolita Ifil Davis and all the team of Lawyers who gave their expert counsel and advice to stand on the arm of peace, justice and truth.

    Today Justice triumph over injustice, contentment conquered greed and above all Anguillians demonstrated selfless service for the brotherhood of man.

    Anguilla was never built on slave labour. This island was built on the spirt each one helping one. And while we may have our differences of opinions, we always come toghther to stand for what is right.

    The ordinary man and woman in the street stood tall today. I am comforted to know that while our leaders slept, there were many giants who were awake and spoke for justice.

    Forty Years ago the Washington Post and the New Times headlines pertainign to the AXA revolution were the mouse that roared and the eel that squealed. Indeed the mouse is roaring again and this time it is for the inhumane working conditions happening on our watch at the Barnes bay development project. Not on our watch will this be tolerated. And I am appealing to all Anguillians to continue supportingt all those persons volunteering to ensure a fair working contract for our guests workers. Frankly, I believe the overseer working permit should be revoke and a new overseer chosen to lead this project.

    Finally, it is to the international community that I am sure many of us flooded their websites and email addresses about this atrocity, that the world is now listening to us.

    Our Asians guest workers must be rescued from this modern day slavery. India is 1 billion strong but by God's Grace this 10, 000 strong voices will not see people treated in this inhumane way on our island.

    Strength and Endurance, Change is coming.

  7. We work in areas vital to society, with a proven commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. We’re finding new ways to balance and nurture the elationship between the natural and built environments, engaging more closely with the communities where we work. Carillion is at the dawn of a new era, and we’re looking forward to it.


  8. From same URL as 6th comment:

    "We will be good neighbours who engage with, work with, and support our local communities. We will create an excellent workplace where our people are respected, motivated and competent; and drive excellence in Health and Safety."

  9. Those who promote progress and prosperity as exclusive to their own selfish motives and interest while deprecating the efforts of persons who argue for fairness and consideration, are like men who want crops without ploughing the soil, they want rain without thunder and lighting, they want the ocean without the roar of its mighty waters, I want to go on record as saying “it is impossible.”
    --Roy Bodden, Cayman Islands

  10. A little bird told me that 16 of the head honchos of Viceroy had dinner at Veya on the night of Wednesday 25 June. They were laughing and eating and drinking. They seemed to be celebrating something. Was it a concidence that the special that night was an Indian meal? The poor Indian laborers could have done with some good food earlier in the day, rather than bake in the sun and sleep under the stars with no facilities to euphamistically "wash".

  11. The local Anguillians should STOP all services to these Viceroy 'honchos'. Let them eat rice and drink water. No more elegant dinners at lovely restaurants like Veya. Turn them away! Do not allow their behavior to permeate Anguilla.

  12. The Governor is silent. Perhaps a little nudging from the Foriegn and Commonwealth Office will set him straight. I doubt if the British want to be involve in a Human rights violation at this time. Especilly since many of the workers are Muslims and Hindus.

    Carillion PLC is a British company and must be held responsible by what their subsidiaries are engaging in. And by extension Anguilla is made to comply by many of the international laws relating to human rights. The Brits I am sure would be concern about contigent liabilities. Human rights lawyers in Europe would not look upon Carillion and the UK government kindly. Slave labour must be stop one island at a time. And if it take a small island to bring Carillion down, then so be it.

    Someone better release a statement about the outcome of the meeting today. If they deport any of the Indians without giving them their due monies, the outrage will be even louder.

  13. In the "RAPF Report" in today's "Anguillian" (the first they've bothered to issue for five weeks, I believe), Deputy Commissioner Illidge Richardson states that the Indians hadn't requested permission to walk to The Valley, and although this is "a right for anyone to undertake," permission "had to be granted."

    What kind of rights do we have if we have to get permission from the police before we can exercise them? Next they'll be shooting tear gas at protesters.

    Oops, they did that today. I don't know what's next.

  14. If indeed the Chief of Police made that statement puiblicly, he should resign immediately for acute onset stupidity. Who needs permission to walk to the Valley?

    Perhaps because there were 50-200 Indians walking, he made that statement. What if one Indian or one Anguilian was walking to the Valley? The entire RAPF needs continuing education in the laws of Anguilla and what activities require police permission. All the Indians did were walk. Should they have run instead? Or perhaps swim?

  15. According to regional papers and most other international newspapers all is now well with the Indian greviances. However, nothing yet reported by Anguilla media. I wonder why this government is so immature when handling the local press.

    ANGUILLA: Indian workers end strike that halted construction of resort

    THE VALLEY, Anguilla (AP) - More than 250 workers from India agreed Wednesday to end a strike that had halted construction of a US$236 million (euro176 million) resort in Anguilla, the government said.

    The workers accepted a revised wages and benefits package after meeting with employers and officials to discuss complaints of long hours, poor medical care and abusive language, according to Finance and Tourism Minister Victor Banks. The strike began Tuesday afternoon.

    Details of the revised agreement were not immediately disclosed.

    The Indian laborers were hired to work on the Viceroy Resorts & Residences project through Pomposh, an Indian recruitment agency, and Carillion, a British construction company. They were recruited to the Caribbean island of fewer than 14,000 people due to a labor shortage.
    Source: www.theledger.com
    Don, I hope you can get a copy of the agreement from the Lawyers representing the Indians. I want to able to sleep well tonight knowing this treatment of workers isn't happening on my watch. Someone has to look out for the workers. In the interest of transparency, is indeed all is now well, it should be reported in our media. Was a head count down to make sure the Indians were not secretely deported without getting their due monies?


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