Talat Butt is a worker from Kashmir based in Sweden and working at M/S Birger Jarl - the old name for the Baltic Star when it was under the Panamanian flag. He started working on board in November 1997. Along with his 24 Pakistani colleagues, he was used as cheap labour in grave violation of the Swedish law. Talat Butt had a 12-hour working day for seven days a week. This went on for 21 months without a single day off. His wage was less then SEK 7,000 (approximately $750 or Euros) a month.
He started a struggle against this injustice. Working class organisations including SEKO Sjöfolk gave him help in his just struggle. After a long fight, he won equal rights according to the Swedish laws for the non-EU workers. It cost the company - Rederi - around SEK 5,000,000 (half a million dollars) for 24 workers. For more information see:
By early 2002, Rederi changed its flag and registered itself with the Swedish flag. Using its new registration, the company tried to make use of European Union laws to fire us.
Talat Butt, one more time, started a campaign to save our jobs and for an improvement in our working conditions. As a result, he had to face deportation from Sweden during this campaign. The Swedish Immigration police arrested him from his work place and detained him for two hours. The police had to release him as there was no charge against him to keep him in custody.
Next day, however, when Talat Butt went onto the boat for work, he was stopped by the police with a notice served by Rederi. The company, through this notice, had banned him from going on the boat either for work or for meeting his colleagues. The company was afraid that his visits on board would help other workers getting organised.
Meantime, Rederi announced 25 vacancies for stewards through the Arbetformadeling (Labour Exchange). These jobs were announced without serving us any prior notice.
Talat Butt, along with his colleagues and some working class organisations, formed a "Solidarity Committee for Justice on the Baltic Star". The Committee launched a campaign to stop the deportation of Rederi´s non-European workers.
Following this struggle, Migrationsverket (the Immigration Office) granted 18-month work permits to all the workers but not to Talat Butt. (Again, more information also at: www.justiceatbalticstar.com
Rederi didn't find any reason to lay off Talat, but still his employment papers were not sent to the Migrationsverket for his work permit. He was however getting his full salary meantime.
Rederi, in November 2002, offered Talat Butt a job in a meeting with SEKO Sjöfolk. The job was offered on "M/S Harley-Davidson" to solve the conflict. However, after one month, Rederi withdrew the job offer.
This state of affairs went on until 28th of February 2003 when the Migrationsverket finally denied Talat Butt any visa as Rederi management had deliberately avoided sending relevant papers to the Migrationverket.
The company has manoeuvred in order to fire him by denying him his stay and work permit in Sweden. This is just a tactic to fire him.
This is clear victimisation for his peaceful, just and bold struggle for working class rights guaranteed by the Swedish law. This also is an attempt to make an example out of him for those who want to struggle for justice and equal rights.
Demands of the campaign: Stop the victimisation! Grant a work permit for Talat Butt! Allow SEKO Sjöfolk intervention to help Talat Butt!
Sign an appeal to stop victimisation of Talat Butt by Swedish Rederi Allandia. http://www.petitiononline.com/bj2003/petition.html
Stödkommittén för rättvisa på Baltic Star (Solidarity Committee for Justice on Baltic Star).