Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Key Opening For Iraq's Trade Unions

The General Federation of Iraqi Workers and the Kurdish Federation of Workers (from Iraqi Kurdistan) have met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq to press for the repeal of Iraq's Anti-Trade Union Legislation.

Still in operation (and use) is Law 150 passed by Saddam Hussein in 1987 banning the operation of Trade Unions in the public sector of the economy, which covers some 80% of those who manage to have jobs.

Decree 8750 adopted in August 2005 by the transitional Government is also still in operation. Under it the Iraqi Government have sequestrated Trade Union funds, pending a decision in which they will determine who is to be recognised as a Trade Union. So much for free Trade Unionism.

It is, therefore, good to see that the Deputy Prime Minister has not dismissed the Trade Unions representations out-of-hand as has occurred in the past. This is, therefore, a key time for the Trade Movement throughout the world to press the Iraqi Government on this issue. It is an urgent and key matter to raise within one's own Trade Union.

I need to declare an interest, I am an honorary member of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions which form a key part of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers and the bulk of the delegation shown on the above link are friends of mine.


RhusLancia said...

Hi Harry,
What can we do to help?

Harry Barnes said...

Representations to the Iraqi Government will help. The bodies which are most likely to do this are Trade Union and Labour Movement organisations. We can press these. Raising the issue with local politicians and interest groups concerned about the well being of Iraq can also help to raise the profile of the issue. For instance in the UK, these three bodies can lead on the matter -

Alec said...

Hi, Harry, you toothpick you. Here's an article from the NYT which was sent me (don't have the URL).


The International Women’s Media Foundation
awarded its “courage in journalism awards”
yesterday to women who risk their lives covering
the news. One award was given to six Iraqi women
who work in the McClatchy Newspapers bureau in
Baghdad, a job so dangerous that they cannot take
the chance of being photographed, not even in the
Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue.

Speaking for the six, Sahar Issa had a powerful
message that we wanted to share with our readers:

“To be a journalist in violence-ridden Iraq
today, ladies and gentlemen, is not a matter
lightly undertaken. Every path is strewn with
danger, every checkpoint, every question a direct threat.

“Every interview we conduct may be our last. So
much is happening in Iraq. So much that is
questionable. So much that we, as journalists,
try to fathom and portray to the people who care to know.

“In every society there is good and bad. Laws
regulate the conduct of the society. My country
is now lawless. Innocent blood is shed every day,
seemingly without purpose. Hundreds of thousands
have been killed for seemingly no reason. It is
our responsibility to do our utmost to acquire
the answers, to dig them up with our bare hands if we must.

“But that knowledge comes at a dear price, for
since the war started, four and half years ago,
an average of about one reporter and media
assistant killed every week is something we have to live with.

“We live double lives. None of our friends or
relatives know what we do. My children must lie
about my profession. They cannot under any
circumstance boast of my accomplishments, and
neither can I. Every morning, as I leave my home,
I look back with a heavy heart, for I may not see
it again — today may be the day that the eyes of
an enemy will see me for what I am, a journalist,
rather than the appropriately bewildered elderly
lady who goes to look after ailing parents,
across the river every day. Not for a moment can I let down my guard.

“I smile as I give my children hugs and send them
off to school; it’s only after they turn their
backs to me that my eyes fill to overflowing with
the knowledge that they are just as much at risk as I am.

“So why continue? Why not put down my proverbial
pen and sit back? It’s because I’m tired of being
branded a terrorist: tired that a human life lost
in my county is no loss at all. This is not the
future I envision for my children. They are not
terrorists, and their lives are not valueless. I
have pledged my life — and much, much more, in an
effort to open a window through which the good
people in the international community may look in
and see us for what we are, ordinary human beings
with ordinary aspirations, and not what we have been portrayed to be.

“Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to
reach out. Help us to build bridges of
understanding and acceptance. Even though the war
has cast a dark shadow upon your nation and mine — it is never too late.”

Harry Barnes said...

Thanks Alec