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The abuse of basic labour rights in Iraq, and the bravery of Iraqi workers to continue to organise under extreme pressure of aggressive employers supported by viciously anti-trade union legislation from the Saddam era is continuing. A raft of recent attacks on trade union activity of oil workers is attracting wide condemnation from international trade unions, and includes fines, forced demotions, and relocation of union officials.
The Court of Appeal has ruled against Ibrahim Radi, vice-president of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU), confirming a fine of 34 million Iraqi dinars (US$30,000), an amount far beyond the trade union leader’s ability to pay. In case of non-payment, Radi will face jail, and also the possible dismissal from his job. Hassan Jumaa Awad Al Assadi, President of IFOU calls for solidarity and assistance from trade union comrades abroad.
IFOU President Hassan Jumaa has himself recently been disciplined for trade union activity, being arbitrarily demoted three years seniority including a substantial drop in salary.
In May 2011 ICEM reported on the Sadrist-controlled Ministry of Labour controlling trade union elections, appointing a “Ministerial Preparatory Committee” (MPC), consisting of un-elected, politically bias officials, mostly from the Sadrist Party. MPC officials distributed union membership cards, arbitrarily choosing members favourable to their faction. Union offices were taken over with support from police and military personnel, and the union elections were held inside the Sadrist Party offices. Following international outcry, those election results were voided, but today the Ministry of Labour recognised the 2011 election results and asked the same preparatory committee to oversee a new round of worker elections on 2 June. The elections stand to appoint worker representatives at all levels, and will be marred with fraud and misconduct.
A LabourStart campaign will be launched in the coming days gathering online messages to the Iraqi authorities. Join the campaign which also calls for justice in a number of further cases, connected to a peaceful protest of workers at the Maysan Oil Company for which they are charged and disciplined for “inciting unrest”.