Trade Union News



 

Success of the Strike of the Sheraton Hotel Workers - Baghdad

http://www.labourstart.org/docs/en/000407.html

The workers of Sheraton hotel - Baghdad, had organized a strike on Sunday (03/03/07) and Monday (04/03/07) calling for paying their overdue salaries and other unpaid benefits. The strike was led by the General union of the tourism and hotels' workers, inside the building of Sheraton hotel - Baghdad.

The demands of the workers focused on paying the overdue salaries and arrear unpaid benefits of the holidays which amount up to 200.000 Iraqi Dinars (equivalent to 140 US$) in addition other arrears.

There were 250 workers who took part in the strike that continued from Sunday till Monday, where the workers gathered daily at about 10:00 am. The administration started negotiations with the delegation from the workers represented by Zamil Abood and Ayad Fadhil, both of whom are members in the executive bureau of the tourism and hotels union. The delegation presented the workers demands to the administration, which agreed to these demands. Consequently, the workers ended their strike after reaching an agreement with the administration.

The salaries of the workers of Sheraton, Merdian, and Baghdad hotels and many other hotels were frozen because of the limited business and occupancy of the hotels as result of changing them into military controlled zones and the concert walls built around.

The General Union of the Tourism and Hotels Federation of Worker Councils & Unions in Iraq.
05 March 2007


IRAQI UNION OFFICES RAIDED

On 23 February 2007 US and Iraqi forces raided the head offices of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW), the country's national trade union centre. They arrested one of the union's security staff (later released unharmed), destroyed furniture, and confiscated a computer and fax machine. And then they did it again two days later (25/02/07), causing further damage to the union headquarters.

The union is condemning the attacks as unprovoked. It is calling on the occupation forces to issue a written apology, to return all the seized property, and to pay compensation for damages caused.

They are asking unions around the world to send messages of protest. If you are a trade union member you can show your solidarity by clicking here: http://www.labourstart.org/iraqraid


Iraqi Oil Union Leader Outlines Resistance to Oil Privatisation

For Immediate Release
Thursday 06 July 2006

Date: Monday July 10th
Time: 2.30pm
Place: Room C, 1 Parliament Street SW1

Hassan Jumaa Awad al Assadi, President of the General Union of Oil Employees, will detail his union’s and allied civil society organisations’ campaigning efforts for democratic consultation on Iraq’s forthcoming Energy Law. He will also speak about the current situation in Basra. Greg Muttitt, author of ‘Crude Designs’ and specialist in Iraqi oil policy and the British agenda will also be present (tbc). Greg recently returned from Jordan where he has been researching the Iraqi government’s energy policy plans.

Last week the union 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. It is prepared to shut down oil exports if such plans are undertaken.

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.

Contact
Ewa Jasiewicz / Sabah Jawad, Naftana (Support Group for the GUOE) 07749 421 576 freelance@mailworks.org or 07985 336 886 sabah.jawad@idao.org

Greg Muttitt, Researcher with PLATFORM and Specialist in Iraqi Oil Policy and the UK Agenda 00962 7992 51257 (Jordan mobile until July 5th) 07970 589 611

Notes for Journalists
Hassan Jumaa does not speak English but will be accompanied by a translator

Hassan Jumaa is in the UK from July 5th -14th

The GUOE represents over 23,000 oil workers across four provinces in nine state oil and gas companies. It is independent of all trade union federations in Iraq.

Many of the Union’s activists fought against and were persecuted by, the Baath regime. Hassan himself was jailed three times by the regime.

The Union has organised strikes, export interruptions and protest actions over foreign corporate interference (Kellogg Brown and Root was expelled from workplaces by union activists in 2003), unpaid wages, slashed wages, deliberate degradation of industrial assets, oil smuggling and corruption.

The union has also reconstructed war-damaged drilling rigs, refineries, port equipment and pipelines.

Naftana (Arabic: 'our oil') was set up by UK activists after contact with the GUOE. We are in regular contact with the leadership of the union.

See www.basraoilunion.org for statements from the union


PRESS RELEASE from Naftana - UK Support Committee for the General Union of Oil Employees Iraq

Tuesday July 20th 2006

OIL UNION BANK ACCOUNT FROZEN
IRAQI GOVERNMENT ATTACKS OPPONENTS OF OIL PRIVATISATION

We have just confirmed reports that the Iraqi regime has frozen all the bank accounts of the Iraqi oil workers' union, both abroad and within Iraq.

Wave of anti-union activity by government The Iraqi regime's decision comes in the wake of 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 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'.

Hamstringing opponents of oil rip-off
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.

Naftana member Ewa Jasiewicz is prepared to deal with enquiries.  You can call her on 07749 421576.

Notes for journalists
The GUOE organises over 23,000 oil and gas industry workers Naftana (Arabic: 'our oil') was set up by UK activists after contact with the GUOE.  We are 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.

See the union's website www.basraoilunion.org for more details in both Arabic and English

Sign up to the Naftana email alerts system at: naftana-subscribe@lists.riseup.net


Below is the transpcript of GUOE President Hassan Jumaa Awad al Assadi's speech at the UK Stop the War Coalition's international peace conference held in London, December 2005. Translation is by Lebanese Academic and Writer Gilbert Achcar:

Speech delivered at the International Peace Conference organized in London by the Stop the War Coalition on Saturday 10 December 2005, by Hassan Jumaa Awad.

[Hassan Jumaa Awad is the President of the General Union of Oil Employees in Basra]

In the name of God, The Merciful, The Compassionate,

Dear friends, antiwar activists, and peace lovers,

Allow me to thank you very much for your invitation to join this conference which opposes war and advocates peace. As you know, the occupation of Iraq is one of the most important issues on the current international scene. I believe that conferences of this kind are important and very useful for informing world public opinion about the latest developments in the military actions of the occupation forces. As you also know, we live in a world in which evil forces pursue domination and the usurpation of rights and property. In order for peace to reign over the entire world, we have to stand steadfast against those evil forces, unify our protest and practice solidarity, for it is the unity of peoples that intimidates the forces of evil. To this end, I convey to you the greetings of Iraq's workers, and in particular the oil workers who, by their struggle, have tormented the forces of evil represented by America and its allies. They have stood against occupation forces and confronted them, preventing them from getting to the oil installations, and have stood likewise against foreign companies. Oil workers were the first to stand against these companies by holding out against the monopolist firms that were brought in by America two months after the beginning of the occupation. These firms came under the protection of American tanks; however, our Union's first action was to expel KBR [Halliburton] from our oil sites, thus marking the victory of Iraqi workers against the forces of evil.

Dear friends,

Our Union was reconstituted eleven days after the arrival of occupation forces in Baghdad. That was on April 20, 2003: a number of activists faced up to this task, rendered exceptionally difficult by the state of chaos and security instability prevailing in the country. The main goals of the reconstitution of the Union were well-known: the first was to secure Union members' claims while Iraqi state administration fell under American control; the second goal was to safeguard the oil sector's production mechanism, knowing full well that America's goal is to control Iraq's oil. It is for these reasons that the Union was reconstituted in the oil sector -- because we were aware of American intentions, as oil was one of the main reasons for launching the war on Iraq.

As you know, brothers and sisters, Iraqi oil reserves are considered the world's second largest and that is why the war was launched against the land of the two rivers. Allow me to say a few words about the vicious onslaught that America and its allies launched against our beloved Iraq. The reasons for war that were presented to the world were, first, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction -- Bush, the criminal, purposely ignoring that [UN] inspection commissions had been roving Iraq north to south since 1991 in search of these weapons and did not find any. The second alleged reason was the war against terrorism, whereas Bush and the U.S. administration knew quite well where terrorism was truly based. We say therefore that these were not the main reasons for launching the war on Iraq, but the reasons were those that I mentioned, to which should be added that one of the main reasons was also that Iraq constituted the major threat to the security of Israel. We know, and everyone here knows, real American intentions. America is fully prepared to annihilate the entire world for its interests, and its interests lie in exerting control over Iraqi oil and putting this wealth at its disposal.

We know, brothers and sisters, how clear are the goals of this war, military occupation being but the first step to be followed by economic occupation. America has destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq - it destroyed the schools, the universities, the hospitals, the factories, the plants and it has violated human rights. Among these violations stands the fact that the Transitional Administrative Law [TAL, promulgated by U.S. proconsul Paul Bremer] did not allow the formation of unions and other organizations. American and British politicians are claiming that they are establishing democracy in Iraq, since there was no democracy in our country because it lived under a dictatorial regime. But very regrettably, their so-called democracy consists in the [Iraqi] citizens having to stop whenever an American or British military column passes by, for fear of being killed, as everyone knows: this is their so-called democracy. The [Transitional] Administrative Law considers demonstrations a crime punishable by law.

In our experience America has not been honest in any way. Every now and then they declare that the security responsibility has been handed over to the Iraqis, but then we see the occupation forces roaming everywhere. We believe that America deliberately creates crises every now and then in the areas that are somewhat stable and secure, the reason obvious to all being that crises justify extending the presence of the occupation forces. If stability and security prevailed, these forces would have to leave. However, America does not want to withdraw at this time, because it did not complete its operation; it has not yet accomplished the second phase of the occupation, the economic occupation of Iraq. That is why the U.S. administration is currently putting forward its economic plans which include privatization of the oil and manufacturing sectors, and the production sharing agreement [PSA] project.

From this platform, I would like to make clear to all the positions of our Union, which are known to the Iraqi people:

1. Occupation forces must leave the country immediately and unconditionally.

2. We will stand firmly and resolutely against all those who want to tamper with the security and power of the Iraqi people.

3. We condemn terrorist attacks against our people and stress the importance of respecting human rights.

4. We support the honorable resistance that targets and strikes at foreign military forces and seeks to drive the occupiers out.

5. We will not allow the intrusion of foreign companies [in the oil sector] and production sharing agreements, and we will stand with all our force against monopoly firms such as Halliburton, KBR, Shell, and others.

6. We ask the patriotic forces, the antiwar movement and peace-lovers to support our Union in its campaign against privatization and PSAs.

7. We demand the unconditional cancellation of Iraq's [foreign] debts, as these debts never benefited the Iraqi people but served the buried regime.

In conclusion, I wish you good luck and success, and I look forward to meeting you in a free, democratic, and united Iraq that would be a workshop for all free citizens of the world. I offer again my thanks and appreciation to the organizers of this conference.

May peace and God's mercy, and blessings be upon you.

(Translated from the Arabic. Original version posted on the website of the General Union of Oil Employees in Basra.)


NUJ GOES WORLDWIDE ON CNN TO SLAM BUSH & BLAIR PRESS GAG

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear has spoken out on CNN condemning attempts by the Attorney General to stifle debate on the Daily Mirror memo leak.

He called on the US and UK governments to come clean over allegations that President Bush threatened to bomb the offices of Al-Jazeera in Qatar.

The US-based broadcaster interviewed Mr Dear on Friday (25/11) evening after the NUJ had protested strongly against the UK Attorney General's attempt to gag the press from reporting the matter under the Official Secrets Act earlier in the week.

Mr Dear told CNN: "When the offices of Serb television were bombed we were told it was a mistake; when the offices of Al Jazeera were bombed in Kabul and Baghdad we were told it was a mistake. The Mirror allegations cast a huge cloud of suspicion over those events and the murder of up to 16 journalists at the hands of US forces in Iraq.

"Rather than stifling debate through the inappropriate use of gags to avoid political embarrassment, the government should come clean and condemn any deliberate targeting of journalists."

28/11/05


NATFHE votes unanimously against occupation

NATFHE annual conference Monday 30 May 2005:
Wales Region's Motion 161 IRAQ; amended by Southern Region's Amendment 1, this was CARRIED unanimously:

This Conference reiterates its opposition to the illegal occupation of Iraq by US and British forces. Conference condemns as hypocritical the claims that occupying forces have brought democracy to Iraq. In fact the war has caused large scale loss of innocent lives and the wanton destruction of the material, cultural, spiritual and educational life of the Iraqi people. The war and occupation is mainly about oil. Billions of pounds have been squandered on war and occupation when public services are under funded. Conference instructs the NEC to campaign with other trade unions and relevant bodies for the immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq.

http://www.natfhe.org.uk/anc2005/mondayam.html


Communications Workers back Iraqi unions

The following motion in support of the new Iraqi labour movement was passed by the Executive of the Communication Workers’ Union on 24/02/05.

This Executive notes the election results in Iraq and the timetable for a future constitution for the country. We are concerned that recent attacks on trade unionists in Iraq including:

the kidnapping and beating of transport workers;
the mortar and grenade attack on the headquarters of the Transport and Communication Workers Union;
the attempted murder of Nuzad Ismael, President of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions in Kirkuk;
the murder of Hadi Salih, the International Secretary of the IFTU on the 4th January;
the kidnapping of Talib Khadim, President of the Iraqi Mechanics, Metalwork & Printing Union;

are serious setbacks for the building of any democratic future for Iraq and must be condemned.

Further we also condemn:

death threats to Yanar Mohammed, chair of the Orgnisation for Womens Freedom in Iraq;
the rape, kidnapping and organised intimidation of women in several areas of Iraq under "Resistance" rule;
the declaration of several "Islamicist" groups that they wished to disrupt elections in order to prevent Iraq from "becoming homosexual.”

We reaffirm our opposition to the occupying forces and their agenda of military repression and economic exploitation of the people and resources of Iraq. We also oppose the reactionary forces of the "Resistance" who are hostile to the Iraqi working class organisations and democratic and secular forces in Iraq.
We call for the support of all trade union organisations in Iraq (including the Kurdish trade unions) and the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, currently denied recognition by the interim Government. We also support the campaign by trade union organisations in Iraq for democratic labour laws.
We believe it is a priority for the UK labour movement to offer solidarity to the labour movement in Iraq in their attempt to rebuild their country.