The company that owns and maintains London’s fire engines is recruiting British firefighter instructors to train the military in the United Arab Emirates.
They are offering tax-free salaries of £46,812 a year for British recruits just as Abu Dhabi has joined the Saudis to help Bahrain’s rulers put down dissent among pro democracy demonstrators in Bahrain in the most brutal way. Reports have included torture of nurses, removal of people from intensive care units so they can be left to die and intimidation and possible murder of hospital surgeons. See this Sunday Telegraph report http://bit.ly/fNNvug
UAE jet fighters are also preparing to join the coalition of the willing against Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. They are planning to send 12 fighters and are blaming their civil unrest on the Iranians.
AssetCo, the troubled fire privatisation company, is hoping to get £40m out of a £120m deal with the Gulf State’s armed forces to boost its profitability. It has been facing severe problems in Britain, including having to raise £26m from investors and through a share placing. Revenue and Customs has issued a winding up order against AssetCo seeking at least £4m and they have to pay off a debt to the state-owned Lloyds TSB.
The deal was one of the last negotiated by former chief executive, John Shannon, before he resigned after a huge row with the rest of directors over the share placing.
Now they are desperate to recruit trained staff so they can fulfill it. The advertisement promises a company car, free medical cover and flights home to Britain. See here. http://bit.ly/ftpdZi
The Telegraph report on Bahrain atrocities, the AssetCo contract and job advertisement can be seen together here. http://bitly.com/i4yYFk
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, has written to David Cameron, to protest about the deal.
He said: ” The clampdown in Bahrain has resulted in a significant number of protestors being killed. The clampdown, including martial law, is supported by armed forces from Saudi Arabia and from the UAE.
… I hope you will make it clear that it is not acceptable for them to take British public money, and also to assist the armed forces of the UAE … I hope you will insist that any company which takes on such work in future, does not also undertake work for military clients involved in the suppression of democracy.
May I remind you that, in 1963, fire hoses were turned on school age civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham Alabama. Ever since that deeply alarming moment, fire services have sought to maintain an independent role as a result of their humanitarian responsibilities. We now have a UK firm providing an essential aspect of our emergency service which has close commercial links to a brutal and anti-democratic military. All the talk from politicians about support for democracy in the Arab world is so much hypocrisy if they allow UK public services to operate in this manner. AssetCo and its directors clearly have no regard for the humanitarian role of our service, and are only in it for profit. ”
It seems extraordinary to me that a foundering British company is poised to make millions out of Middle East misery and recruit desperate British people to do it.