Subject: Arms dealer recruitment disrupted by protest

Arms dealer recruitment disrupted by protest

PROTESTORS turned out in force at the Royal Victoria Hotel, St Leonards, where BAE Systems, Britain's largest arms dealer, were holding a recruiting event.

In a protest co-ordinated by local group Hastings Against War, people gathered in the freezing cold to voice their opposition, hand out leaflets and, in some cases, go in and debate with BAE staff about the ethics of the arms industry.

A spokesperson for Hastings Against War, said: "In their advert in last week's Observer, BAE Systems claimed to offer 'high quality projects and real quality of life.'

But what about the quality of life for those on the receiving end of their weapons?"

"BAE Systems has a long and murky history of deals with dodgy regimes, including trying to sell military aircraft to Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the late 80s, and exporting attack aircraft to a genocidal dictatorship in Indonesia which were used in occupied East Timor."

Protestors also accused BAE, which was advertising jobs based in Rochester, Kent, of running the event with the aim of poaching staff from its local competitor, General Dynamics UK, which has two factories in St Leonards.

Richard Coltart, a spokesman for BAE, said: "We respect the democratic right for people to disagree with us and to voice these disagreements in a peaceful manner but we do not accept the opinions of these people and reject their claims.

"As far as the accusations about trying to poach workers, I can just say that it is not a coincidence we were recruiting in an area which we knew housed appropriate workers.

"There is a large national shortage of these skilled engineers and recruiting in this way is something many large companies try."

One of the protestors, Emily Johns of Central St Leonards, said: "Companies like BAE and General Dynamics should be challenged whenever they try to present themselves as respectable corporate citizens.

"They profit directly from death and misery, and their business fuels conflicts all over the world."

07 December 2005


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