Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/567/6927
Yahya must stay Defend Saudi Arabian trade unionist from deportation
Yahya Al Faifi faces deportation, photo SP Wales
YAHYA AL Faifi, a self-sacrificing trade unionist and committed socialist, faces deportation back to Saudi Arabia where a tyrannical regime jails, tortures and 'disappears' dissidents. His appeal against the refusal of his asylum claim has now been rejected and Yahya and his family are in imminent danger of deportation.
Mariam Kamish, campaign secretary
Yahya worked for BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia. When the company announced they were cutting Saudi Arabian workers' pay by 40% in 2002, Yahya organised the 2,000 workers in a plant trade union and led them to victory, stopping the pay cut.
500 attended the first meeting - even though unions are illegal in Saudi Arabia - showing Yahya's abilities and these workers' determination. Unfortunately, BAE Systems immediately sacked Yahya.
Yahya fought to get his job back, taking the case to a tribunal. BAE Systems said that the matter was out of their hands. He has an official letter from BAE, saying that a government officer ordered that Yahya be sacked.
The workers' victory, Yahya's sacking and his fight for reinstatement received much media coverage in Saudi Arabia. Yahya came under surveillance and received telephone threats from the government, saying they would "cut his tongue out" if he didn't stop campaigning. Eventually, he was warned to leave the country, if he wanted to protect his family's safety.
Yahya and his family arrived in Britain over four years ago and asked for asylum. Now, both the Home Office and the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal appeal hearing judge say that - despite Saudi Arabia's appalling human rights record - Yahya and his family face no threat if returned to Saudi Arabia!
In Britain, Yahya has supported every trade union struggle. During the Irish Ferries occupation in 2005, Yahya attended every picket and wanted to sleep on Pembroke docks until all the Irish Ferries workers had their jobs back. He has been on picket lines for council workers, Jobcentre workers and teachers.
So far, Yahya has the support of Ann Clwyd, MP; Jeff Cuthbert, AM; Billy Hayes, Communications Workers Union (CWU) general secretary; Mark Serwotka, PCS union general secretary; Wayne Thomas, general secretary of South Wales NUM; the executive of the National Union of Journalists in Wales; the executive of the University and College Union in Wales; Merseyside Port Shop Stewards and many other bodies.
In 2006, Wales TUC passed a motion supporting Yahya's campaign for Saudi Arabian trade union rights. Yahya is a member of the CWU and an honorary member of the National Union of Mineworkers.
Protect the life of a brave trade unionist and support the fight to build trade unions in the Middle East - an important part of the fight for a socialist future in the Middle East and internationally.
A day of action on 19 February will lobby the Home Secretary in Queen Anne's Gate in Whitehall, London, at 2pm. Some prominent trade unionists and MPs will attend. Similar protests will be held outside British Embassies and Consulates worldwide.
In The Socialist 17 February 2009:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis