DUBAANA (AGOZE V) – With a decisive majority, the voters of the aquatic colony on Agoze V voted yesterday to continue their centuries-old custom of granting full citizenship only to members of a union.
Debate surrounding the proposal to grant citizenship rights to non-union employees of capsuleer extraction facilities had been contentious and, prior to the vote, many believed the results of the election would be close.
With all precincts reporting in, however, voters opposed the measure 3 to 1.
“I think the people of Dubaana have spoken clearly,” said Kindal Jaharwalal, president of the powerful Miner’s Union and defacto spokesman for the Union Council, the colony’s governing body. “Union membership is the very fabric from which our society is made. Allowing non-unionists full rights would bring about the end of our society as we know it.”
Those words were particularly hurtful to Mahabala Chennapragada, a foreman at a capsuleer facility who had been a member of the Miner’s Union for nearly 20 years.
“I don’t get it,” Chennapragada said. “I work as hard now as I did in the local mine and I actually pay more taxes now because the capsuleers pay better wages.”
The custom of granting full citizenship only to union members goes back to the early days of the colony when workers employed by the mining companies that established the outpost organized to expose unfair labor practices and brutal working conditions. Following a labor riot, governance of the colony was ceded to a board appointed by labor union leaders.
From that grew a tradition in which members of each union elected a representative to serve on what became known as the Union Council. Those who were unemployable or who were removed from their union for various reasons were considered unworthy of deciding matters concerning the colony and were disenfranchised.
Employees at capsuleer facilities tried to form their own unions, but their efforts met with no success. Workers at one extraction center staged a walk out, but quickly found themselves replaced by an army of foreign-born employees brought in by the capsuleer. Another group tried to force the issue with a work stoppage. Those workers backed down when their employer threatened their homes with an orbital bombardment.
Some sympathetic to the plight of these workers put forth possible options to allow those employed by capsuleers to participate in the political process. The Union Council deadlocked on the matter, but a proposal to send the issue to a vote of the people was narrowly approved.
In yesterday’s vote, citizens of the colony were asked if capsuleer-employed residents should be allowed to vote on referendums and local governance issues even though they would not have representation on the Union Council.
Already there have been complaints that the vote was flawed because those most directly affected—the employees at the capsuleer facilities—were not allowed to participate. One group, calling itself the Dubaanans for Universal Citizenship, has pledged to take the issue to the Intaki Assembly, although that organization has traditionally declined to intervene in colonial internal matters.
“We will not rest until all who work and live on Dubaana are treated with respect as equals,” said Ojasvi Sowrirajan, a DUC spokeswoman.