Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Let us use oil wealth for our people -Iraqi unions confront IMF

Iraqi trades unions have joined in issuing an important declaration, confronting the IMF and World Bank, and asserting the needs of their people for the wealth of their country to be in public hands, and used for reconstruction and the public good.

This joint statement is the more significant in that the unions involved represent workers in different parts of Iraq, from Basra in the south to Erbil in the north, Arabs and Kurds, and with varied political and religious/secular outlooks, but a shared working-class loyalty and popular aim - the wealth the working people produce should be under their control, for the people's good.

Amid the pontifications of warmongering statesmen and their tame hacks, and the cackle of reactionary warlords and collaborators competing to grab their spoils and fiefs, this is the voice of workers' unity that deserves to be heard.

We owe its translation and appearance to Lebanese socialist Gilbert Achcar, who sent it to friends in Iraq Occupation Focus, with the request it be circulated.

Dear Friends,

Below is an important joint statement of workers unions from all parts of Iraq. It was adopted yesterday at the end of a two-day seminar in Amman, Jordan.

Please circulate/post/print it as widely as possible.

Best,Gilbert A.

I'm happy to comply, and hope my own and other unions take notice and add our voice to that of the Iraqi brothers and sisters. We could learn from their spirit and attitude too.

Bearing in mind something oilworkers Hassan Juma'a said during his last visit to London, I'm wondering whether the unions' announcement that they are forming a permanent co-ordinating committee to make their positios known could be a prelude to forming a workers' party in Iraq?

Joint Statement Issued by the
Iraqi Trade Unions
concerning the Programs
of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Iraq

The Iraqi economy has been severely affected by decades of sanctions, wars and occupation. The Iraqi trade unions and federations believe in the capacity of the country with all its oil and mineral resources to provide a decent living standard for Iraqis.

The federations and unions consider that the wars and occupation have caused a dramatic decrease in the living and social standards of Iraqis and especially of workers. The federations and unions stress the importance of complete sovereignty for Iraq over its petroleum and natural resources so as to develop them in a way that assures a complete reconstruction of the country.

We wish to stress the following points in regard to the policies of the IMF and World Bank in Iraq:

1) Increasing transparency and additional representation for Iraq in the decision-making structures of the IFIs.

2) To stop imposing structural adjustment conditions for loans.

3) Agreeing to provide funding for public services and state-owned enterprises without demanding their privatization.

4) Canceling debts owed by Iraq that have resulted from the policies of the former regime.

5) Rejecting the reduction of spending on social services especially the elimination of government support for the food distribution system or the reduction of the number of items covered.

6) Strongly rejecting the privatization of publicly owned entities and especially of the oil, education, health, electricity, transportation and construction sectors.

7) Rejecting the increase in the price of petroleum products, considering the negative impact of the increase on the living standards of Iraqis.

8) Adopting a new labor law and a pension and social security lawthat assure workers' rights and are in conformity with internationallabor standards and human rights conventions. The World Bank and the IMF must also respect these standards The unions and federations that have signed this statement announce the formation of a permanent coordinating committee that will make its positions known to the Iraqi Government and to the IFIs. They also demand that the IFIs engage in dialogue, discussion and negotiations with the trade union federations regarding their policies in Iraq.

Finally, they request the assistance of international trade union organizations to provide all possible support to the above-mentioned demands.
(my emphasis added -C.P.)

(Signed)General Federation of Iraqi Workers

Oil Unions Federation in Iraq / Basra

Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq

Kurdistan General Workers Syndicate Union / Erbil

Iraqi Kurdistan Workers Syndicate Union

Amman, 16 January 2006

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