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Iraqi workers protest against the latest government interference

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29 June, 2012IndustriALL affiliates in Iraq were at the forefront of a major demonstration and picket on the morning of 25 June 2012 in Basra. Fresh from her election as an Executive Committee member of the new IndustriALL Global Union, Hashmeya Muhsin al-Saadawi, leader of the Electricity Utility Workers’ Union, was one of the leaders of the protest which also included the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU), Federation of Workers Councils Unions of Iraq and other Basra based organizations. Protesters marched and chanted slogans denouncing the continued blatant government intervention into internal trade union affairs and the ban on trade union organization in the public sector.

The latest attempt by the government to subvert the trade unions and destroy their independence is the creation by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of Iraq in April 2011 of a Preparatory Committee. This committee invited a group of individuals—less than a dozen- who have no trade union affiliations to a meeting behind closed doors to falsify union elections and exclude the current General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW) executive of Basra. The process is also an attack on the present trade union pluralism in that it promotes the idea that the GFIW is the only trade union structure in Iraq. As such it is in clear violation of national and international laws including International Labour Organization Conventions 87 and 98 ratified by the Government of Iraq.

IndustriALL Global Union strongly supports our affiliates demands that the Iraqi government respects its responsibility towards national trade unionism especially the rights to form and join unions in both the private and public sectors and right to free assembly and demonstration. We join their call on the government stop the blatant interferences by dominant political parties and militias in attempts to both politicize and dominate trade unions as well as the government use of the former regime anti union law against the labour movement in Iraq.

It is essential that a fair and just ILO-compliant labour law that respects workers’ rights and guarantees freedom of trade union organizations, assembly and demonstration and strike is enacted as a matter of urgency and that all unions in Iraq are involved in any discussion relating to such a law.

We commend the unions in Basra for the mutual trade union solidarity among the unions and federations present in the demonstration and we look forward to working with the coordinating committee established by the participants to lead further solidarity struggles for workers’ rights.

IndustriALL Global Union extends its support to Iraqi trade union movement and calls on affiliates to condemn all attempts of the Iraqi Government to tramp on trade union rights.

Show your support for the trade union struggle in Iraq via electronic LabourStart campaign at http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=1390