The following interview with Abdul Aalye Awlawe Al Rekeabye, President of the Agricultural Workers Union was conducted at the recent Conference of Iraqi trade unions organised by the ICFTU in Amman, Jordan to discuss the application of ILO Conventions in Iraq and the development of a labour code for the Iraqi constitution.
Abdullah Muhsin: Tell us something about your union. When was it established? How were you elected as President and what have you achieved since your election?
Abdul Aalye Awlawe Al Rekeabye: On 5th June 2004 a conference was held at the Ministry of Agriculture offices in Baghdad. 119 delegates representing 28 workplace union committees attended the Conference. The delegates all came from Baghdad. 24 individuals put themselves forward for election to an Executive Committee and 15, including myself, were elected. I was then elected President at the first meeting of the Executive Committee.
We have warm comradeship with all regional union committees, such as those in Al Umara and Dyala kut al Basra.
We organised a strike on 4th and 5th September 2004 at the A1 Kandy Company, demanding a pay increase. All the 170 workers at the company took part in the action and after two days we won a minimum wage agreement for unskilled workers and an increase in the monthly rate from 30, 000 to 70, 000 dinars.
We have organised several seminars on trade union rights. We campaigned for reinstatement and compensation for workers who were sacked for their political views by the old regime. Our union has succeeded in obtaining the reinstatement of many workers.
We are affiliated to the IFTU and consider our union as one of the main pillars of the federation