Morning Star: Iraqi praises solidarity of firefighters

Iraqi praises solidarity of firefighters
(Friday 13 May 2005)
IRAQI Federation of Trade Unions spokesman Abdullah Muhsin praised Britain’s firefighters yesterday for their “magnificent show of solidarity” with the Iraqi people in their struggle against war and occupation.
The trade unions’ international representative told conference of the “brutal and systematic” torture and murder of his comrades at the hands of Saddam Hussein. But he stressed that Iraqi people never wanted the US-led war and occupation.
“The principled position that the FBU took against the war and occupation of Iraq and your call for the return of the full sovereignty of that country is highly appreciated by the people,” he said.
“The IFTU was against the war from the outset because we knew that the victims would be innocent civilians, not the regime.
“We knew that Saddam had no support among the masses and could be overthrown by the Iraqis. But our cry for genuine international help was ignored.”
Mr Muhsin called for Iraq’s “crippling” debt to be cancelled and condemned the US-led occupation’s “squandering” of the country’s oil wealth.
“The country’s oil wells were looted by the regime for arms, wars and personal enrichment. And today, that wealth is squandered to pay for the occupation,” he noted.
He explained that the Iraqi trade unionists’ priorities are now to “keep Iraq intact” – as the risk of Iraq decending into a civil war is still very real – and to include free and democratic trade union laws in the new constitution.
“We accept nothing less than a strong and democratic trade union movement and a fully sovereign Iraq,” the speaker declared.
Mr Muhsin gave a dark and horrific account of the fate of Iraqi trade unionists under Saddam’s regime, noting that, like many others, he was forced to flee the country in 1978, as the regime launched a merciless campaign against the progressive elements in the country – in particular, trade unionists, communists, students and women’s organisations.
“Saddam’s regime initiated a campaign of terror, where most of the union activists were imprisoned, tortured, executed or disappeared,” he said.
“For many Iraqi people, the term union became associated with oppression and terror. Their response to joining a union was ‘keep away from us. We want to live in peace.’.”
As a result, an underground movement was established in 1980 and this helped to organise strikes around the country. Many of those strikes were “brutally crushed.”
Mr Muhsin blamed the high unemployment for the recent explosion of violent attacks in the country and condemned the insurgents as “a sinister and reactionary coalition” of religious fundamentalist who exploit the popular anti-US sentiment in the country.
“The foreign troops must leave in order to isolate the cynical and the anti-social forces that indiscriminately bomb and kill innocent people,” he insisted.
Mr Muhsin went on to highlight the Iraq election in January, branding it a “historic breakthrough.” He said that 60 per cent – 8.5 million – Iraqis had gone to the polls, despite the constant bomb attacks on voters.
“As lines of voters were being blown up by suicide bombers, they cast their ballots. These are the martyrs of the new Iraqi democracy,” he added.

May Day greetings to the labor movement and working people of Iraq: USLAW

In the name of peace, freedom and social justice, US Labor Against the War sends our greetings to the labor movement and workers of Iraq on May Day. With great courage, you have begun to reorganize your country’s unions, and reclaim the historic traditions of Iraq’s labor movement.
You are organizing in the face of very difficult economic conditions, including massive unemployment and extremely low wages, which have been imposed on you by the US/British occupation. In spite of these difficulties, workers throughout Iraq have organized strikes and demonstrations, and have successfully begun to raise the living standards of working families.
You have opposed the Bush administration plan for the privatization of Iraq’s workplaces and resources. You have called for an end to the US occupation, and for a democratic political process to ensure that Iraq has a government that represents the needs and aspirations of Iraqi workers. We share these goals.
You have faced extreme violence, and the assassination of your leaders, without succumbing to fear, terror and intimidation. In the face of all these challenges you have remained courageously resolute in your commitment to a peaceful, democratic and just multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Iraq. You deserve the congratulations and support of unions and workers throughout the world for your efforts.
We are very proud that May Day, the international workers’ holiday, was born in the United States in struggle for the 8-hour day. Our own country contributed martyrs like Albert Parsons and the murdered labor heroes of Chicago, who died for the same ideals for which you fight today. We are your brothers and sisters in this struggle We will redouble our efforts to end the occupation of your country, to achieve full respect for the sovereignty and independence of Iraq, and to support you in your struggle to establish a democratic state with full respect for workers’ rights. We will march beside you, and support your movement, in any way we can.
Long live May Day! Long live the solidarity between the workers of Iraq and the United States!

British trade union delegation conducts successful fact-finding mission to Iraqi Kurdistan

A British trade union fact-finding delegation composed of the Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary of Unison (Britian’s largest union) and Nick Crook UNISON International Officer, Professor Mary Davis of Natfhe (the University & College Lecturers’ Union), Brian Joyce and Dave Green of the Fire Brigades Union and John Lloyd (a member of the National Union of Journalists and a writer on the Financial Times) has recently completed a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan. The delegation was accompanied by Abdullah Muhsin (IFTU) who acted as their guide and translator.
The delegation met with trade unionists in all Iraqi Kurdistan three provinces (Dohuk, Arbil and Sulymania). They also met with a delegation from the IFTU led by IFTU first Vice President, Hadi Ali and with delegations from the IFTU branches in Mosul and Kirkuk.
The delegation was able to meet politicians, media representatives and the Teachers Unions in both Iraqi Kurdistan and Iraq.
The delegation also paid homage to the grave of Masoud Al-Barzani, the national hero of the Kurdish people where Keith Sonnet delivered a televised speech.
The delegation will issue a full report soon.
26 March 2005

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) reports on recent visit to Iraqi Kurdistan

Brian Joyce, a member of the National Executive Commitee of the Fire Brigades Union provides an account of a recent trade union visit to Iraqi Kurdistan by his union to oversee delivery of 1250 sets of fire kit sent by the FBU. The FBU has been at the forefront of practical solidarity with the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU).

Continue reading Fire Brigades Union (FBU) reports on recent visit to Iraqi Kurdistan

Early Day Motion condemns murder of Ali Hassan Abd, IFTU Oil and Gas Workers’ Union leader

Early Day Motion 781
That this House unreservedly condemns the murder of Ali Hassan Abd, a leading member of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Union’s (IFTU) Oil and Gas Union, who led the way in rebuilding independent unions after the fall of Saddam Hussein and who was assassinated on Friday 18th February by terrorist extremists while returning with his children to his home close to the Al Dorah oil refinery in Baghdad; supports the statement issued by the IFTU Executive Committee, which ‘condemns this cowardly act and resolves to continue to organise for free, democratic and independent unions’ and ‘pledges to its martyred hero Abu Fahad to carry on organising workers and also for a new and democratic Iraq’; and strongly supports the IFTU’s call for the international labour movement to condemn this atrocity against a brave trade unionist, which once again confirms that the so-called resistance is deliberately targeting leaders of the Iraqi labour movement in order to prevent the growth of a new civil society in Iraq, after the brave defiance shown by millions of Iraqis in the last elections.
Signatures (19)
Harry Barnes
Mike Hancock
David Lepper
Bob Russell
Alan Meale
Gregory Campbell
Martin Caton
Rudi Vis
Alan Williams
Ernie Ross
Paul Flynn
Mark Lazarowicz
David Drew
David Hamilton
Brian Jenkins
Rob Marris
Eric Illsley
Jim Sheridan
Michael Clapham

Communist Party of Australia condemns the murder of Brother Ahmed Adris Abbas

It is with feelings of disgust, anger and vehement protest that we learn of the murder of brother Ahmed Adris Abbas a member of the Transport and Communication Workers Union Baghdad.
The killers, who pretend to be for the Iraqi people and to be spearheading the so-called resistance to the occuption of your country by the US, British and Australian troops in particular, are actually directing their main blows against the Iraqi people. Hundreds have died in their indiscriminate terrorist assaults – workers, intellectuals, farmers – men, women and children.
We join you in mourning the loss of your brother trade unionist and fellow worker and give honour to all those who are genuinely fighting for independence, democratic trade unions and a situation in which it becomes possible to rebuild your country and continue its glorious history in peace and freedom.
Peter Symon
General Secretary
Communist Party of Australia