US Christian-Muslim labour delegation coming to London for workers' rights

By staff writers
November 2, 2007

A US imam, a Christian minister, and a striking janitor from Indiana are coming to London to speak at a trade union gathering, to stress the importance of workers' rights in Islamic social thought, and to take on a company they say is violating them.

The delegation also wants to save the integrity of Shari’ah-compliant investing, a rapidly growing financial practice that appeals to ethical Muslims and non-Muslims alike, from a company which they say is getting it a bad reputation in a dispute with workers.

The Shari'ah-related title will raise eyebrows with some, but the practice is one that people can buy into from both non-religious and religious backgrounds if they share the principles of social and economic justice, proponents say. That is why they are angry about the treatment of janitors.

The delegation will attend the Islamic Real Estate Finance Conference taking place 6-7 November 2007 and will meet with investors, London-based imams, and British trade union and community leaders to raise awareness about the business practices of Indianapolis-based international real estate company HDG Mansur.

The company plans to launch the first-ever publicly-traded Shari’ah-compliant investment fund, Al-Umran Global Property Fund Limited, next year.

Although such funds are designed to promote the social justice goals of Islam, HDG Mansur, the second largest property owner in Indianapolis, is - the delegation say - refusing to support good jobs with health care for the city’s janitors, leaving janitors employed by their cleaning contractor, Executive Management Services (EMS), and thousands of others in poverty.

Since 1996, Islamic investment funds have grown by an average of 30 percent each year, and now total approximately $72 billion in assets. In 2002, HDG Mansur launched the HSBC Amanah Global Properties Income Fund to cater to this market. Long favoured by devout Muslims, such funds are now drawing the attention of non-Muslims who are seeking non-exploitative investments.

The delegation will participate in a Round Table Discussion on Worker Rights and Islamic Investing at 12.00 on Tuesday 6 November 2007, at TGWU–Unite, Ground Floor, Transport House, 128 Theobald’s Road, Holborn, London WC1X 8TN.

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