UK: Labour party votes to end contract with G4S over human rights concerns regarding services it provides to the Israeli Govt.

In November 2015 the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party voted to end its contract with G4S to provide security at its party conference.  Jennie Formby of Unite, who was at the NEC meeting, said "[t]he decision to end the security contract with G4S was taken because of concerns that this company has acted unethically and has been found to be in breach of the human rights obligations of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies." 

The reference to breach of the OECD Guidelines refers to a final statement issued by the UK National Contact Point in June in a complaint brought by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights.  Further details including statements by G4S can be found here.  G4S says in a statement below: "It is important to note that whilst the NCP did conclude that there were improvements the company could make in relation to its Israeli business, it did not find any general failure by G4S to respect the human rights of Palestinians, or any failure to respect human rights in our own operations."

Labour MP Joan Ryan, Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said: "I am writing to the party's general secretary, Iain McNicol, today to express my deep concern at this development, which I hope will now be urgently reviewed. As I have consistently argued, boycotts are both wrong in principle by seeking to delegitimise Israel and do nothing to further the cause of peace, foster coexistence or assist the achievement of a two-state solution."

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Company response
25 November 2015

G4S response

Author: G4S

G4S staff have been securing the Labour Party's annual conference for over 18 years and the feedback from officials and the police on our work this year, as in the past, continues to be extremely positive.

Clearly we would be disappointed not to continue such a successful working relationship, but as yet we have not had a formal clarification of what the NEC vote might mean for next year's event.

G4S takes its human rights obligations very seriously.  We have commissioned independent reviews of the group's activities in Israel against international human rights law and internationally recognised human rights standards and we have engaged fully with the UK National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD during an extensive review of our business in the region.  It is important to note that whilst the NCP did conclude that there were improvements the company could make in relation to its Israeli business, it did not find any general failure by G4S to respect the human rights of Palestinians, or any failure to respect human rights in our own operations.

Article
25 November 2015

LPHR statement on Labour’s executive decision to end their security contract with G4S

Author: Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR)

Last week Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) decided to end its security contract with the British multinational company G4S, reportedly on the grounds of the company’s non-compliance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. G4S’ statement responding to this decision expressly refers to the complaint brought against the company by LPHR through the UK National Contact Point (UK NCP). The UK NCP made three adverse findings against the company in its Final Statement, published in June 2015. The NEC’s decision, and the reported influence that LPHR’s complaint had in its making, illustrates the weight of the UK NCP’s adverse findings against G4S. One attendee at the NEC meeting stated: “The decision to end the security contract with G4S was taken because of concerns that this company has acted unethically and has been found to be in breach of the human rights obligations of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies.” In contrast to the NEC’s acknowledgement of the severity of the UK NCP’s findings, G4S continues to fail to acknowledge these adverse findings.

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Article
24 November 2015

Labour Party votes to end G4S contract over human rights concern

Author: Express & Star (UK)

Labour's executive has voted to boycott G4S, the firm which has been providing security at the party's conferences for more than a decade...G4S has been involved in controversy over its links to Israel....Jennie Formby of Unite, who was at the NEC meeting, said: "The issue of G4S was raised during an agenda item reviewing the annual party conference. It was therefore the appropriate opportunity for the NEC to discuss the use of G4S to provide security for future conferences. More than half the NEC was present for this discussion. "The decision to end the security contract with G4S was taken because of concerns that this company has acted unethically and has been found to be in breach of the human rights obligations of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies."The Labour Party was founded to advance justice and fairness at home and abroad. Members from across the party had consistently expressed concerns that G4S's conduct is not consistent with those fundamental values, and so the NEC responded accordingly."...Labour MP Joan Ryan, who chairs Labour Friends of Israel, said: "The Labour Party has a long-standing policy of oppositions to boycotts which the NEC's decision directly contravenes. "I am writing to the party's general secretary, Iain McNicol, today to express my deep concern at this development, which I hope will now be urgently reviewed. "As I have consistently argued, boycotts are both wrong in principle by seeking to delegitimise Israel and do nothing to further the cause of peace, foster coexistence or assist the achievement of a two-state solution." Jennie Formby added: "This decision is not a boycott of G4S. It is a decision not to use a company that has been found to be in breach of international human rights guidelines, and therefore out of line with Labour's values."

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Article
23 November 2015

G4S vote calls into question Labour’s commitment to security

Author: Justin Cohen, Jewish News (UK)

Community leaders have insisted a vote by Labour Party’s governing body to boycott G4S over its links to Israel calls into question the party’s commitment to security and opposition to delegitimisation...The national executive committee voted by 12 votes to four for the proposal following an unscheduled intervention by UNITE political director Jennie Formby, despite party general secretary Ian McNicol trying to rule the motion out of order, according to party sources.

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