Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Iraq government attacks oil union


IRAQ's shiny new "democratic" (or denominational) government has shown its teeth to please its master, and taken a bite from the only people who are really uniting Iraqis for freedom, and against the corporate rip-off off the people's wealth - the trade unions.

Naftana (Our Oil) - the UK Support Committee for the General Union of Oil Employees says it has confirmed reports that the Iraqi regime has frozen all the bank accounts of the Iraqi oil workers' union, both abroad and within Iraq.

The committee says the Iraqi regime's decision follows a series of anti-union measures, including the disbanding of the council of the lawyers' union, freezing the writers' union accounts and the September 2005 decree making all trade union activity illegal. For that anti-union act the regime used the pretext of promising the promulgation of a future law to 'regulate' trade union organisations and their activities.

"This action follows in the footsteps of US administrator Paul Bremer", says a Naftana press release. "In 2004 Paul Bremer, the occupation's then pro-consul in Iraq, declared trade union activity in the state sector illegal. That decision re-enacted Saddam Hussain's 1987 decree banning workers' unions in the state sector by declaring them to be 'civil servants' rather than 'workers'."

The Oil Workers' Union has played a leading part in opposing IMF-backed measures which raised Iraq's domestic fuel prices out of reach of poorer people, and aim to take its resources into the hands of big foreign companies. As Naftana's spokesperson Ewa Jasiewitz says:

"Iraq's enormous oil wealth is being groomed for Production Sharing Agreements, which would transfer effective control over all aspects of oil policy, production and marketing to multination oil companies. The oil workers' union is one of the most effective opponents of this policy, organising an anti-privatisation conference last year and another one to come this year".

The GUOE organises over 23,000 oil and gas industry workers Naftana was set up by UK activists after contact with the GUOE, and is in regular contact with the leadership of the union. In August 2003 the union halted oil exports for two days as a protest over low wages. The GUOE is independent of any political party or union federation.GUOE executive committee members, including its President, were part of the opposition against Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, and many were imprisoned by the regime.

The GUOE is opposed to the military occupation of Iraq and to the privatisation of the oil and industrial sectors of Iraq. The GUOE is a successor to the Southern Oil Company Union (SOCU), set up immediately after the fall of the Saddam regime. In October 2003 union activists kicked US company KBR out of oil industry workplaces.

  • GUOE president Hassan Juma'a is due to visit London next month and will speak at various meetings, including Iraq Occupation Focus on July 13, 7.30 at the Indian YMCA, Fitzroy Square, W1 (nearest tubes Warren Street or Great Portland Street.

For more information on GUOE visit

For Iraq Occupation Focus:

For news alerts from Naftana:

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