Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hands off Iraqi trade unions!

IRAQ's free and independent government, doing as it is told, appears set to implement all the "free market" conditions set by the occupation authority (CPA) soon after the US-led invasion seven years ago, says well-informed freelance journalist Ewa Jasiewicz. This means opening up the country for exploitation, with wholesale privatisation of state assets and industries.

"This accompanies the entry of foreign oil companies under privatisation contracts, not as radical as the proposed original PSAs (Production Sharing Agreements) but modified forms of PSAs", adds Ewa, who has worked with the Iraqi oil trade union to make its struggle and views better known internationally.

"Iraqi oil workers reject these and are working hard to prevent their realisation as they constitute an attack on sovereignty and resource and economic democracy. "

Forwarding the appeal below from US Labor Against the War(USLAW), Ewa adds that "The US Iraqi puppet regime is carrying out the orders of its' architects and the brutal occupation, albeit in different guises, continues. We need to act."

USLAW just learned that Iraqi troops and police have raided the offices of the Electricity Union all across Iraq as they execute a new decree issued by the Minister of Electricity (who is also the Minister of Oil). That anti-union decree is the latest in an escalating series of measures designed to incapacitate and destroy the Iraqi labor movement.

The unions of Iraq have called upon the labor movement of the world to respond to this outrageous assault on worker rights.

USLAW has designed a very easy process by which you can generate a protest message to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, the Minister of Oil/Electricity al-Shahristani, Iraqi ambassadors in the US, other Iraqi officials and have copies sent to Secretary of State Clinton.

It will take just a few minutes of your time. Please demonstrate your personal solidarity with our courageous sisters and brothers in Iraq. Send the message we have drafted or modify it to send your personal message. When you have finished, you'll have an opportunity to forward this appeal to others.



Thanks in advance for standing up for international labor solidarity.

An injury to one, is an injury to all!

Invite others to send a message HERE

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Have you visited the USLAW website recently? Check it out for news, information and resources for labor's antiwar movement. See the latest news about Iraq's labor movement, the U.S. military occupation and the movement that seeks to end it. Learn more about USLAW and what you can do to bring all U.S. troops and contractors rapidly home.

Brendan Barber writes to Foreign Secretary

Rt Hon William Hague MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Dear William

Iraqi Ministry bans unions in electricity sector

Yesterday at midday police officers stormed the offices of the electricity workers' unions across Iraq carrying out an order from the Ministry of Electricity to shut them down. I ask you to urge the Iraqi Government to stop these draconian actions.

The Ministerial order, issued on 20 July 2010, 'prohibits all trade union activities at the Ministry and its departments and sites'. It orders the police, 'to close all trade union offices and bases and to take control of the union's assets, properties and documents, furniture and computers'. Finally, it instructs the Ministry to taking legal action against trade union officials under the Terrorism Act (2005). I am attaching an English translation of the order to this letter (copied below).

The order is in clear violation of international core labour standards. It is also a violation of the Iraqi constitution, and one of the most draconian acts by the Iraqi Government since the fall of Saddam. It comes from Hussain al-Shahristani, the Minister for Oil, who has recently taken over the electricity portfolio and has a worrying track record of using Saddam-era labour laws against trade unions.

This is just the latest in a series of recent attempts to undermine the Iraqi trade union movement: a key civil society player in building a democratic, peaceful and prosperous Iraq. The movement unites working people across religious, ethnic and geographical divides in their call for safe, productive and decent work. Unions across the globe, including the TUC, are working with their Iraqi colleagues to press the new Iraqi government to replace these repressive laws with fair and just ones that comply with the standards of the International Labour Organisation.

Hashmeya Muhsin, the leader of the Electricity Workers' Union is well know and admired globally as an inspiring campaigner for the rights of the vulnerable, and one of few women union leaders in the Arab world. For her efforts she faces great personal risk in Iraq. For the Government to effectively label her and the EWU as terrorists is an insulting and dangerous abuse of power.

I ask that you call on the Iraqi Government, as a matter of urgency, to withdraw the order, and allow unions to operate freely, underpinned by a fair, just and ILO-compliant labour law.

Yours sincerely

Brendan Barber

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