First I would like to offer a brief account of the state of the oil sector in Iraq. Then move on to provide a brief history of the Iraqi labour movement and of the emergence of the IFTU before I go on to discuss the current situation in Iraq and the challenges the IFTU faces.
The history of trade unionism in the Iraqi oil industry began in the 1930s, when union committees were formed in Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk.
Mrs Hashimia Muhsin Hussein has been elected the President of the Electricity and Energy Workers’ Union in Basra – the first woman trade union leader in Iraq’s history.
The ousting of the Saddam dictatorship has opened up a long suppressed aspiration for democratisation of state and society in Iraq especially for those who embrace social, political, ethnic and national diversity, despite the complex and extremely difficult situation caused by the occupation.
1300 delegates representing people and organisations from Iraq’s 18 provinces defied the extremist wreckers and terrorists – both Islamist fundamentalists and Saddam suporters – by gathering in Baghdad’s Convention Centre on Sunday 15 August 2004 to elect an interim National Assembly and to engage in an open national dialogue on Iraq’s future.
The Camden Branch of UNISON, the public sector workers
since the formal end of the US/UK occupation with UN Resolution 1546 which laid the basis for the ending of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) and lead to the subsequent formation of the Interim Government on the 28 June 2004. Three points emerge from which I would like to highlight
Morning Star – 7 August 2004
IRAQI trade unionist Abdullah Mushen demanded an end to the occupation and a “sovereign and democratic Iraq” in central London on Thursday night. At a packed meeting organised by Camden branch of UNISON, Mr Mushen, who is London representative of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), described how, under Saddam Hussein, the Ba’athist dictatorship turned the state-run General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) into a “yellow union” and a “tool of oppression.”
“Morning Star” – 5 August 2004
INTERVIEW: Iraqi trade unionist Subhi Abdullah Mashadani talks to the Morning Star about the rebuilding of a labour movement.
IRAQI Subhi Abdullah Mashadani experienced the brutal repression of Saddam Hussein’s regime at first hand. But, after the dictatorship’s collapse, he was vocal in the campaign to establish a new free labour federation. His work was rewarded last year, when he was elected as the first general secretary of the democratic Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU).
An invitation from RMT to address its conference brought Mr Mashadani to Britain, where he also addressed the UNISON conference and was, in his words, “warmly received.”
Here, he speaks to the Star about the situation facing Iraq’s fledgling labour federation, the IFTU.
At the recent conference of the IFTU-affiliated Transport & Communication Workers’ Union delegates unanimously passed a motion instructing the newly elected union leadership to reclaim the union’s Baghdad office building closed since December 6 2003 by an act of illegal aggression by troops of the occupation authority.