Monday, July 10, 2006

"The Oil is Ours!" -Iraqi oil union president in UK

LATE NEWS: Unfortunately, oil workers leader Hassan Juma'a (see below) has had to return suddenly to Iraq and will not be able to speak at our monthly IOF meeting tomorrow night (Thursday 13 July).

However, the meeting will take place and we will be discussing the situation facing Iraqi oil workers and how we can support them, as well as our other future plans.


HASSAN JUMA'A AWAD (centre, in light blue shirt) with Iraqi and US union militants at rally in Portland, Oregon. (photo US Labor Against the War).

The leader of one of Iraq’s most powerful trade unions is in Britain this week. Hassan Jumaa Awad al Assadi is the President of the General Union of Oil Employees (also known as the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions). The GUOE organises over 23,000 oil and gas workers across the south of Iraq, and has been involved in efforts to unite all Iraq's oil workers and unions, in fighting privatisation and the foreign corporate invasion of Iraq.

The Union recently issued a statement to Iraq’s Prime Minister and Oil Minister demanding that the people of Iraq be democratically consulted about the future of Iraq’s oil. New Oil Minister Hussein Al Shahrastani has stated that an energy law will be drafted within the next two months, and passed through parliament by the end of this year. The new law will decide the future of investment and development of Iraq’s oil and gas supplies.

No public consultation or debate has been held regarding the new law.The union has vowed to ensure the failure ‘no matter what the cost be’ of any promulgation of an energy law which promotes privatisation and foreign corporate control of Iraq’s oil sector. International oil companies, supported by the British government, have lobbied for long-term contracts to be signed which would give them control over Iraq’s oil for the first time in more than three decades.

The US government – which also favours such contracts – has also increased its embassy’s efforts to influence the energy law. Oil was a key topic discussed during President Bush’s recent visit to Iraq. The GUOE is opposed to the military occupation of Iraq and to the privatisation of the oil and industrial sectors of Iraq. The Iraqi government recently froze the GUOE’s bank accounts in Iraq and Jordan.
Hassan Juma'a is to address an Iraq Occupation Focus meeting on Thursday evening, July 13 at 7pm, at the Indian YMCA, Fitzroy Square, London W1 (near Warren Street or Great Portland Street tubes).

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