Labor - Iraq

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Labor Protests Iraqi Oil Scheme at BearingPoint, Inc. & on Capitol Hill

30 Minute Video with Iraqi Labor Leaders. William Hughes, June 5, 2007

Iraq's Workers Strike to Keep Their Oil

David Bacon, t r u t h o u t, June 9, 2007 The Bush administration has no love for unions anywhere, but in Iraq it has a special reason for hating them. They are the main opposition to the occupation's economic agenda, and the biggest obstacle to that agenda's centerpiece - the privatization of Iraq's oil. At the same time, unions have become the only force in Iraq trying to maintain at least a survival living standard for the millions of Iraqis who still have to go to work every day, in the middle of the war. This week, Iraqi anger over starvation incomes and oil ripoffs boiled over. On Monday, June 4, the biggest and strongest of the Iraqi unions, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, launched a limited strike to underline its call for keeping oil in public hands, and to force the government to live up to its economic promises. ... Iraq

Arrest Warrants Still in Force on Union Leaders

Strike Planned for Monday. Naftana, June 8, 2007 The president of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU), Hassan Juma’a has informed Naftana at about 3.30 PM London time (Friday 8th June 2007) that the arrest warrants against the leaders of the Federation have not been withdrawn, and he made an urgent appeal to world trade unionists and the anti-war movement to step up the solidarity campaign with Iraq’s oil workers and trade unionists. Hassan Juma’a said “the arrest warrants, issued by the prime minister’s office, are still in force, despite the Federation’s decision to postpone the strike till Monday 11th June to allow for further negotiations.” US jet planes were buzzing the skies of Basra as he spoke to Naftana on the phone. He added that Iraqi army tanks and other forces were still besieging workers in Sheiba, in Basra governorate, but that the workers will resume the strike on Monday if their demands were not met. ... Arrest

Iraq oil strike on hold, troops remain

Ben Lando, United Press International, June 8, 2007 Washington - With an arrest warrant looming, an Iraqi union leader warned during a US visit failed negotiations will escalate the standoff in Basra's oil sector. Faleh Abood Umara, general secretary of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions, said a five-day cooling off/negotiation period, which began Wednesday, is crucial to keep Iraq's oil sector pumping and 1.6 million barrels per day flowing to the global oil market. IFOU, an umbrella group representing more than 26,000 workers, has threatened to strike since early May over the draft oil law and other working conditions. ... Iraq

Voices of Iraqi Workers

June 4-29, 2007
Atlanta, Berkeley, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York City
Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Washington, DC
Co-sponsored by:
People to People - Face to Face

Update on the Iraqi oil workers' strike

US Labor Against the War, June 8, 2007

The most recent report from Basra informs us that the strike by members of the Federation of Oil Unions at the Iraqi Pipeline Company has been suspended. The government has agreed to resume negotiations and withdraw the arrest warrants issued against the leadership of the union. The way this came about is a testament to the prestige and influence of the union, the isolation and political weakness of Prime Minister al-Maliki, and the depth of nationalist sentiment within the country.

Al-Maliki had issue the arrest warrants with the promise that he'd deal with the strikers with an "iron fist." He ordered elements of the Iraqi armed forces (it is not clear whether these were regular army, security police or other units) to execute the order to arrest the union leadership. An Iraqi general in charge of the operation refused to carry out the order. He is said to have told the Baghdad government that they had until Monday to "sort it all out" or he would resign and join workers. As a nationalist and a resident of Baghdad, he refused to order his forces against the workers. In the face of this insubordination, al-Maliki backed down and agreed to withdraw the arrest warrants and reopen negotiations. The union suspended the strike and has given the government a week to reach an agreement or they will resume the strike and expand it to other areas of the oil industry.

Solidarity with Iraqi oil workers

UK TUC, June 7, 2007 The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) struck on Monday and Tuesday, after weeks of negotiations, as part of a dispute with the employers in the southern oilfields over a range of issues, notably bonus payments, temporary work, health and safety and the future of the Iraqi oil industry. Negotiations are now underway again, but the Iraqi army is present in the area and earlier this week surrounded the strikers and tried to arrest one of the leaders (they backed off when it became clear the rest of the workers would not let this happen). ... Solidarity

AFL-CIO Calls on Iraq to Stop Threatening Workers in Oil Fields

Issues Joint Statement with British TUC, Writes to Secretary of State Rice. AFL-CIO, June 7, 2007 The AFL-CIO has called on the Iraqi Government to immediately stop using the threat of force to intimidate workers in Basra oil fields. The American labor federation issued a joint statement with the British Trade Union Congress today calling on Iraq to “pull back its security and military forces and cease its menacing threats to arrest and attack these workers immediately.” In addition, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rice urging her to use diplomatic channels “to convey to the Iraqi government that military intervention is not the way to resolve this dispute.” A strike of oil workers began on Monday, June 4 and on Tuesday these workers were surrounded and threatened by Iraqi armed forces while attempting to exercise their legitimate right to strike. ... AFL-CIO

TUC calls on Iraqi government to pull troops out of oil union strike

UK TUC, June 6, 2007 The TUC has called on the Iraqi Government to withdraw troops from the Basra oil fields immediately. A strike of oil workers began on Monday (4 June) and the TUC is asking the Iraqi Government not to use the troops, who arrived in the oil fields on Tuesday and surrounded the strike, to arrest strike leaders or fire on workers. The strike - about wages, bonuses, health and safety, use of temporary workers and the future of the oil industry in Iraq - has suspended delivery of oil to Baghdad and the southern Governates of Iraq. ... TUC

Oil strikers met by Iraqi troops

Ben Lando, United Press International, June 6, 2007 Washington - On the third day of an oil strike in southern Iraq, the Iraqi military has surrounded oil workers and the prime minister has issued arrest warrants for the union leaders, sparking an outcry from supporters and international unions. "This will not stop us because we are defending people's rights," said Hassan Jumaa Awad, president of IFOU. As of Wednesday morning, when United Press International spoke to Awad via mobile phone in Basra at the site of one of the strikes, no arrests had been made, "but regardless, the arrest warrant is still active." He said the "Iraqi Security Forces," who were present at the strike scenes, told him of the warrants and said they would be making any arrests. The arrest warrant accuses the union leaders of "sabotaging the economy," according a statement from British-based organization Naftana, and said Maliki warned his "iron fist" would be used against those who stopped the flow of oil. ... Oil

Iraqi Oil Workers to Strike Over Privatisation Law

Hands Off Iraqi Oil, May 8, 2007 Iraq's largest oil workers' trade union will strike this Thursday, in protest at the controversial oil law currently being considered by the Iraqi parliament. The move threatens to stop all exports from the oil-rich country. The oil law proposes giving multinational companies the primary role in developing Iraq's huge untapped oilfields, under contracts lasting up to 30 years. Oil production in Iraq, like in most of the Middle East, has been in the public sector since the 1970s. The Union, representing 26,000 oil workers, has held three previous strikes since 2003, each time stopping exports, for up to two days at a time. The announcement of the strike has spurred negotiations with the Ministry of Oil, which are ongoing. ... Iraqi

Voices of Iraqi Workers Solidarity Tour

June 4-29, 2007

Atlanta, Berkeley, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Washington, DC

Co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and United for Peace & Justice

People to People - Face to Face
Iraqi labor leaders tell it like it is to the American people
  • Hashmeya Mohsen al Hussein, President, Iraq Electrical Utility Workers Union
  • Faleh Abood Umara, General Secretary, Iraq

GFIW Salutes May Day

General Federation of Iraqi workers, April 30, 2007 Glory to the Iraqi working class in its glorious day. To the working people of Iraq: Workers in Iraq and the world over are celebrating the first of May, with a full resolve and determination to continue the struggle for a better tomorrow of human rights, democracy and social justice and for a world free from exploitation and discrimination between people of different ethnic and religious affiliations, sectarian and political constitutes. May Day is an opportunity for Iraqi working people to sharpen their resolve as they continue struggle for a better Iraq of Human rights, social justices and federal democracy, free from terrorism and sectarianism. May Day symbolizes the struggle against all forms of exploitation, oppression, class oppression at the same time an opportunity to escalate the struggle for the achievement of the just and legitimate demands of our workers of decent jobs, decent wages and working conditions, a labour code that adhere to the ILO fundamentals. ... GFIW

How Much Iraqi Crude Oil is Being Stolen?

Mystery of the Missing Meters. Pratap Chatterjee, CorpWatch, April 30, 2007 The line of ships at the Al Basra Oil Terminal (ABOT) stretches south to the horizon, patiently waiting in the searing heat of the Northern Arabian Gulf as four giant supertankers load up. Close by, two more tankers fill up at the smaller Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT). Guarding both terminals are dozens of heavily-armed US Navy troops and Iraqi Marines who live on the platforms. These two offshore terminals, a maze of pipes and precarious metal walkways, deliver some 1.6 million barrels of crude oil, at least 85 percent of Iraq's output, to buyers from all over the world. If the southern oil fields are the heart of Iraq's economy, its main arteries are three 40-plus inch pipelines that stretch some 52 miles from Iraq's wells to the ports. ... How

Interview with Wishyaar Hamad Haji, Iraqi Kurdistan trade union leader

Gary Kent, April 19, 2007 Iraqi trade unionists often turn up at the Commons nowadays. They are very down to earth people with inspiring tales to tell of their own past – though they are always far too modest about their brave battles against Saddam and contemporary Iraqi terrorism – and to win allies for the future of their movement and country. The latest comrade to pitch up for tea at Portcullis House was Wishyaar Hamad Haji, a member of the secretariat of the Iraqi Kurdistan Teachers' Union. Wishyaar is based in the region's capital of Arbil where he is head of the literacy department at the Education Ministry as well as an author and journalist. ... Interview

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