Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Protest will greet Iraq oil minister

This graphic and highly-readable fact-filled book by Jon Sack is well-worth purchase at £3 from Hands Off Iraqi Oil!

IRAQ's oil workers struggled to make do and mend so they could maintain their industry despite sanctions and war, not just to defend their jobs and livelihoods but because they say the oil which could enable Iraq to rebuild belongs to the Iraqi people.

Having struggled out from under the ruins of Saddam Hussein's repressive regime, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions is waging a two-edged fight - against laws inherited from Saddam's regime which restrict union's independence and workers' right to organise; and against the occupation-sanctioned government's willingness to welcome back foreign oil companies.

Hassan Juma'a Awad of the IFOU has won hearty applause from peace campaigners and trade unionists over here, not only for the simple yet sincere and impressive way he has spoken for the workers he represents in Iraq; but perhaps because when he mentions anti-union laws kept on the books, or talks about resisting privatisation, British workers can recognise a brother facing familiar issues. With the difference of course that our unions have funded the party in government, the same government which invaded Iraq, maintains the anti-union laws and is promoting privatisation here and everywhere.

Anyway last night after a number of problems, diversions and delays I managed to draft a resolution on Iraqi oil and trade unions which my local trades union council is rushing to get in to meet a tight deadline in the hope it can reach a conference of trades union coucils later, if the London association agrees. Today I recieved a communication from Hands off Iraqi Oil! , a coalition of War on Want, Naftana, Iraq Occupation Focus, Voices in the Wilderness and other groups, which tells of another way we can act in support of the Iraqi oil workers


Demonstrate at the Middle East Energy 2008 conference attended by Iraqi Oil Minister Dr Hussein al Shahristani

When? Tuesday 5th February 2008
Where? Royal Institute of International Affairs

10 St James’s Square, London SW1Y 4LE (map:
What time? From 8.30am

Called by the Hands Off Iraqi Oil campaign,

Tell Iraq’s Oil Minister:

No Oil for Occupation! – privatisation laws and contracts signed under occupation can have no validity. The vast majority of Iraqis want an immediate end to the military and economic occupation of their country. Most Iraqis also want their resources to stay in the public sector.

Trade Union Recognition Now! – stop using dictatorship laws to repress trade unionism

Dr Shahristani also refuses to recognise trade unions in Iraq. He has issued decrees for the national oil company not to negotiate with unions and ordered the shut-down of union offices.

Iraq’s economic future and potential independence hangs in the balance. Iraqi oil accounts for approximately 90% of government revenue. Whoever control’s Iraq’s oil development has a controlling stake in the country’s overall development. Since 2003, the British and US governments, and international oil companies have been pushing for an oil law which will hand over control of Iraq’s oil to foreign companies

In spite of massive military, political and economic pressure, from Britain and the US, opposition at every level of Iraqi society has meant that this law cannot be passed in its present form.

Despite mass opposition to the draft Oil Law, Oil Minister Dr Hussein al Shahristani has declared Iraq ‘open for business’ and invited oil companies to invest under existing Baath regime legislation.

Trade Union Recognition Now!

Dr Shahristani is also applying Saddam Hussein's anti-union laws, re-imposed by the occupation authorities and now kept on the law books by the Iraqi authorities. This is clearly unacceptable and ironic given Shahristani’s imprisonment by the Ba’ath regime for over 10 years.

Iraq’s trade unions have called the contracts pushed by the foreign companies and the Oil Law – Production Sharing Agreements – a ‘red line’. PSAs will allow foreign companies to control the development and depletion of oil reserves for 25 years. Once signed, PSAs will not be re-negotiable. Iraq’s sovereignty will be surrendered and its economic future effectively mortgaged to the agendas of oil companies.

End the military and econmic occupation

We are asking the Minister of Oil to listen to the Iraqi people, particularly those who work in the oil sector, in their demands for a democratic process for deciding how and by whom Iraqi oil will be controlled.

We are calling for an immediate end to economic and military occupation by foreign interests.

No to PSAs, No Oil for Occupation!
All Troops and Occupation Institutions Out Now!
Union Recognition and Resource Democracy Now!

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