IFTU condemns wave of terror against Iraqi workers

The Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions reported further attacks on its members on the railway line between Basra and Nasiriyyah and on union offices in Baghdad.
An IFTU statement published in the Morning Star newspaper (Tuesday 4th January 2005) said: “These criminal acts designed to intimidate workers and trade unionists follow a well-established pattern of targeted campaigns of assassination and terror which have been waged by those loyal to the former fascist-type, dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein against individual IFTU activists and ordinary workers in recent months.
“In particular, there have been two attempts on the life of Nuzad Ismaiel, president of the IFTU in the Kirkuk region.”
“In the first incident, on December 25, a freight train travelling from Basra to An-Nasiriyyah was attacked.” [for a detailed map of the Iraqi Railway Network from the United Nations Joint Logistics Center go to here.
“Two train drivers were kidnapped and the other five workers on the train were severely beaten and left in a life-threatening condition.”
“The IFTU also reported that the Transport and Communication Workers Union headquarters had been badly damaged in a bombardment with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars on the night of December 26-27.”


News Release:
SUBJECT: IFTU CONDEMNS WAVE OF TERROR AGAINST IRAQI WORKERS.
The Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) denounced yesterday further attacks on its members on the railway line between Basra and an-Nasiriyyah and on union premises in Baghdad. These criminal acts designed to intimidate workers and trade unionists follow a well-established pattern of targeted campaigns of assassination and terror which have been waged by those loyal to the former fascist-type, dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein against individual IFTU activists and ordinary workers in recent months.
In particular, as a recent report from a joint delegation of the IFTU and the British Fire Brigades Union (FBU) highlighted, there have been two attempts on the life of Mr. Nuzad Ismaiel, President of the IFTU in the Kirkuk Region.
In the first incident on 25 December 2004, a freight train travelling from Basra to An-Nasiriyyah was subjected to a terrorist attack, which led to the kidnapping of two train drivers (Salah Mehdi Taher and Salih Chiyehchan Harbi); the other five workers on the train were severely beaten and left in a life-threatening condition.
The IFTU Executive has demanded that the Iraqi Interim Government; the immediate release of the two kidnapped railway workers and proper compensation for all workers who are victims of cowardly terrorist attacks in the course of their working duties. [See full text of IFTU Executive Committee statement dated 29 December 2004, below.]
In a separate incident the IFTU reported: “On the night of the 26/27 December 2004 the headquarters of the Transport & Communication Workers Union was subjected to a cowardly and violent attack by terrorists when they shelled the building with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars which caused a large hole in the wall of the building and a crater in the ground. Luckily there were no fatal casualties.”
In December 2003, the same union building was attacked by US occupation military forces and 8 leading members of the IFTU’s Transport & Communication Workers’ Union (including its President, Mr. Turki al-Lehaby) were arrested and subsequently released unharmed following a worldwide appeal from labour movement bodies. The union offices were sealed for 7 months by the US forces who told the IFTU: “You have no right to organise workers while under military occupation.”
The building was subsequently re-opened by a decision of the first Congress of the Transport & Communication Workers