Oil Union to Negotiate with Maliki - Northern and Central Unions will Strike in Solidarity
For Immediate Release:
Monday May 14th
Oil Strike Postponed for Negotiations with Prime Minister
The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions has postponed its’ strike for this week. A 7-member delegation from the IFOU will meet with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki in Baghdad tomorrow to continue negotiations. The delegation is set to return on Thursday when, if negotiations have failed to bear fruit, a new strike date will be set.
Union President Hassan Jumaa said that unions in the Northern Oil Company in Kerkuk, and the Mechanics and Engineers Union and Dora Refinery Union in Baghdad are ready to take solidarity strike action with the IFOU. ‘Members were balloted and have decided to take action with us if we strike’.
The Union, representing 26,000 workers, has held three previous strikes since 2003, each time stopping exports, for up to two days at a time. The Iraqi government has declared strike action by the Union as illegal.Speaking from Basra today, union President Hassan Jumaa Awad said, ‘We are working within the law. We are not afraid of arrest and imprisonment because we know we have both the legal and the moral right in this dispute.
We are asking all unions and organisations which believe in human rights to stand with us and support us in our legitimate demands’.
The Union’s demands range from a restoration of a bonus scheme, land for homes, approval of outstanding holidays and full time status for temporary workers, to a long-held and reiterated demand for inclusion in consultation over the country’s oil law.
Further demands include government action against price rises because of their detrimental impact on all citizens (not just oil workers) and medical treatment for oil workers especially in areas affected by depleted uranium). See www.basraoiluion.org for more details.
The current draft of the Oil law proposes giving multinational companies the primary role in developing Iraq's huge untapped oilfields, under contracts lasting up to 30 years. Oil production in Iraq, like in most of the Middle East, has been in the public sector since the 1970s.
The Union recently addressed the US Congress and European Parliaments in a letter asking them not to link withdrawal with the passing of the oil law. In it Hassan Jumaa Awad said: ‘We ask our friends not to link withdrawal with the oil law, especially since the USA claimed that it came to Iraq as a liberator and not in order to control Iraq’s resources.The general public in Iraq is totally convinced that Bush wants to rush the promulgation of the oil law so as to be leaving Iraq with a victory of sorts, because his project is failing every day and the occupation is collapsing in all parts of Iraq.’ See http://priceofoil.org/ for a full translation
The proposed strike is the culmination of 4 years of campaigning on members’ issues involving protests, strikes and worker-lead lock-outs.
In a communiqué announcing the strike, the Union declared: ‘Our demands for entitlements were ignored despite four years of continued promises by ministry and government officials…throughout this period we worked to diffuse anger and resentment and address criticism levelled by our members who mistakenly thought of us as the ones failing to put forth their legitimate demands…enough is enough’.
The number of death threats against union leaders has escalated since the strike was first declared, said Hasan Jumaa Awad. "As soon as the federation called for the strike, many of our members and officials were physically threatened by parties active in the political process, with the aim of thwarting the strike and undermining the message of the strike organisers." The Union is taking these threats seriously.
Ewa Jasiewicz of the IFOU support committee ‘Naftana’ said: ‘This is a defining moment in the union’s history and in Iraq’s history. The union is likely to encounter repression over its’ decision to strike –particularly over its position on the oil law.
The world needs to be watching this dispute’.
Contacts Hassan Jumaa Awad Al Assadi, President of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions 00964 7801 001 196 or 00964 7804 114 619 www.basraoilunion.org
Sami Ramadani, lecturer and writer and member of Naftana - UK Support Committee for the IFOU 0044 7863 138 748 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ewa Jasiewicz, Naftana UK Support Group for the IFOU and Hands Off Iraqi Oil Campaign 0044 7749 421 576 email@example.com www.handsoffiraqioil.org
The Hands Off Iraqi Oil Campaign is holding a protest in solidarity with the IFOU and over Shell’s involvement in the Oil Law tomorrow at Shell’s AGM. 8.30am-12pm at the Hammersmith Novotel, 1 Shortlands, London W6The IFOU is an independent trade union representing workers across 4 southern provinces in Iraq: Misan, Dhi Qar, Basra and Mauthanna in nine oil and gas related companies.The Union has been organizing since April 2003 and has stopped oil exports and production over wages and workers rights in the past. It has also held protests against oil smuggling, former regime bosses and what the union sees as the deliberate neglect and degradation of the industry in order to justify private investment.
Union members have carried out reconstruction work on drilling rigs, port equipment, pipelines and refineries since the invasion with minimal, mostly local resources. The Union is not linked to any political party in Iraq but has members which belong to various parties.
The Union enjoys the support of trade unions and civil society organizations around the world including the International Confederation of Energy, Mining and General Workers Union (ICEM), the AFL-CIO in the US, and the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) in the UK including the NUJ and TGWU. The union is partnered with UK development charity War on Want, the 3 million strong US Labor Against War in the USA, and Italian NGO Un Ponte Per.
12 May 2007
Open Letter to US Congress and European Parliament
Please forward the letter below to your local MP and Euro MP www.theyworkforyou.com and ask them to sign the Early Day Motion currently tabled in Parliament (see right)
Open Letter to the Members of the US Congress who Oppose the War on Iraq
To members of the European Parliaments who Oppose the War
Peace be upon you and greetings to you all,
We wish to clarify certain matters relating to events in Iraq for our friends among the members of the US Congress. It is common knowledge that the occupation spared neither the old nor the young, and that Iraq is passing through the most difficult of times because all and sundry are hounding it and covet a share of its riches.
We see no good reason for linking the passing of the feeble Iraqi oil law to the withdrawal of the occupation troops from Iraq.Everyone knows that the oil law does not serve the Iraqi people, and that it serves Bush, his supporters and the foreign companies at the expense of the Iraqi people who have been wronged and deprived of their right to their oil despite enduring all difficulties.
We ask our friends not to link withdrawal with the oil law, especially since the USA claimed that it came to Iraq as a liberator and not in order to control Iraq’s resources.The general public in Iraq is totally convinced that Bush wants to rush the promulgation of the oil law so as to be leaving Iraq with a victory of sorts, because his project is failing every day and the occupation is collapsing in all parts of Iraq.
We wish to see you take a true stance for the children of Iraq, and we always say that history will remember those who advance peace over war.
With my regards,
Hassan Jum’a Awwad
Head of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions