Sunday, October 30, 2005

Germany shuts out Iraqi trade unionists

THEY say "Money Talks".
This is Big Money.

The Greenford, west London, offices of Kellog, Brown, Root, part of Haliburton, the big US corporation that kept vice-president Dick Cheney on its payroll and was first in the rush for fat military and government contracts from the war on Iraq. From tackling oilfires to building cages at Guantanamo, Halliburton is there. In Britain, the US corporation's tentacles stretch from Devonport naval dockyard and the army's tank transporters to NHS computers, and dustcarts in Ealing. The London borough's cleaning and refuse services are handled by Cardinal, another Halliburton offshoot.
In the United States, Halliburton was investigated over contracts and charging. The British government lets the giant firm alone. But in Iraq, oilworkers belonging to the General Union of Oil Employees said they could maintain the industry themselves, and chased Halliburton contract staff out.
They say money talks.
Maybe Big Money doesn't need to do more than whisper in the right ears.
So long as it can rely on governments to stifle the voices of those who stand up against it.

Iraqi women trades unionists barred from Germany

GERMAN trades unionists and others concerned with peace and human rights have just been denied the chance to hear an important but little-heard point of view, by an action of some faceless bureaucrats. What's behind their decision we don't know, though we have our suspicions, because they won't say

Two Iraqi trades unionists were due to start a three week tour of Germany on October 20. Mrs. Bushra A.Abbood and Taha A Ibrahim Breshdi would have been the first women from the Iraqi oil workers' union to make an overseas visit. If media coverage in Germany is anything like that in Britain, Iraqis as sheikhs, religious fanatics, women in chadors and terrorists, then you are unlikely to see or hear an Iraqi trades unionist, let alone a woman trades unionist.

Nor do we get the viewpoint of Iraqi workers resisting the occupation, privatisation and corporate plunder of their country; Iraqis who don't confuse popular resistance with terror against their people, as intent on removing the Ba'athist bosses as on seeing the back of the occupiers.
That viewpoint, too often ignored by many on the Left let alone the bourgeois media, is the stand of the General Union of Oil Employees in Basra, which Bushra and Taha were representing.

The Initiative Group organising the tour had done its work. More than a hundred German trade unions, peace groups etc were looking forward to welcoming the two Iraqi women. Some MPs supported the visit. Tour organisers say they had been assured for several weeks before that there should be no problems with the visa applications. Then on Tuesday, October 18th, with two days to, the visas were refused. Why?

The German Foreign office refused to tell why the visas were denied, saying that ËœUnder German law and in line with established international practice, no reasons for such denial need be given".

Lawyers acting on behalf of the the Initiative Group have issued an interim charge against the German Foreign Office to challenge the Visa denial. The group are also urging supporters in Germany and other countries to protest to the German Foreign Ministry and embassies.

You can e-mail the foreign office at
I have done so.

The General Union of Oil Employees now has an English-language website at

There is a UK support group for the oil union
for which campaigning journalist Ewa Jasiewitz is spokesperson.

Ewa Jasiewicz
UK Support Committee for the GUOE
0044 7749 421 576

Last but not least, Hassan Jumaa of the GUOE , who came here last year to meet British trades unionists and had a standing ovation at the Stop the War conference, will be among the 'Voices of Iraq' speaking at the Iraq Occupation Focus teach-in, at University of London Union, on November 26.



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