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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Sunday | April 06, 2003

The new rebuilders of Iraq

Iraq bidder's apartheid past

Conal Walsh and Oliver Morgan
Sunday April 6, 2003
The Observer

Fluor Corporation, the US building firm tipped to land a massive reconstruction deal in postwar Iraq, is facing a multibillion-dollar lawsuit claiming that it exploited and brutalised black workers in apartheid-era South Africa.

Lawyers acting for thousands of victims of the racist regime are to file a detailed suit in the US this week, which includes the claim that Fluor hired security guards dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes to attack unarmed workers protesting against poor pay and conditions.

The action comes at an awkward time for Fluor, one of five firms controversially invited by the US government to bid for a $600 million contract to rebuild Iraqi roads and public buildings. John Ngcebetsha, a lawyer for former employees, said: 'This company has a long history of human rights violations in South Africa. It cares nothing about the societies in which it works and its involvement in Iraq would be disastrous.'

Fluor denies all the allegations. Meanwhile, it has emerged that Jay Garner, the retired US general who will oversee Iraqi reconstruction, is facing legal action over his activities while president of a defence company, SY Technology (now SY Coleman).

Lawyers acting for rival DESE Research claim Garner lent his weight to senior officials at the Space and Missile Defence Command, where he previously worked, to deny DESE a research contract on a system for attacking enemy satellites. DESE's lawyer, Howell Riggs, also claims that Garner received a 'payoff' from successors at the defence command in the form of another lucrative contract. That deal was later cancelled.

Wow, I guess I wrong. Repressing workers, getting payoffs, seems like they'll fit right in Iraq. They have the local customs down pat.

Steve Gilliard

Posted April 06, 2003 12:46 PM | Comments (26)


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