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Issue #1555      11 July 2012

Joint Statement

Iraqi trade unions in Basra denounce sham elections

Four Iraqi workers’ federations and their unions in Basra (please see signatures below) have met to state their official position regarding the sham workers elections conducted by the so-called “Preparatory Committee” set up by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. This “Preparatory Committee” has invited a group of individuals – less than a dozen – who have no trade union affiliations, to a meeting behind closed doors to hatch a conspiracy – through fake elections – to appoint an Executive Bureau for the trade union body, the General Federation of Workers (GFIW) in Basra.

In view of this, our meeting condemns this opportunistic move which has been endorsed and certainly blessed by the government. The meeting reports the following:

The “Preparatory Committee” has falsified elections by inviting a few individuals with no trade union credentials instead of the current GFIW executive of Basra.

This process is a means to delude working people that the GFIW is the only trade union structure in Iraq. It stands against the democracy which this group boasts about and is opposed to trade union pluralism.

The undersigned unions and federations in Basra, in defence of the trade union right to organise and to ensure pluralism for the trade union movement, therefore declare:

  1. The meeting condemns the establishment of the official preparatory committee which has interfered blatantly in the internal affairs of unions and put obstacles to impede the free formation of trade union organisations, which is a clear violation of international conventions such as Convention No. 87 (1948).
  2. The meeting condemns government interference in the affairs of the unions and condemns those who are working – with government blessing and protection – to sabotage the work of free and democratic trade unionism. An example of this is the interference by the above-mentioned infamous “Preparatory Committee”.
  3. The meeting condemns the government use of the notorious anti-union laws and decrees, such as Law No.150 of 1987, that constrain and inhibit trade union activities in key active Iraqi [public] sectors and deny trade union freedoms.
  4. The meeting deplores the decrees that were issued by the [defunct] Governing Council, such as Decree No.3 of 2004, that were aimed at impeding the development of the workers movement and its trade union organisations.

We also demand:

  1. That the government respects its responsibilities with regard to trade unionist freedoms, especially the rights to form and join unions in both the private and public sectors, and the right to free assembly and demonstration. The meeting would like to remind the government of its responsibility to respect its international obligations toward international conventions such as Convention No.87 and No.98 of 1948.
  2. That the government stops the blatant interferences by dominant political parties and militias in order to politicize trade unionism and their attempts to dominate it.
  3. The abolishment of the decisions made by the [defunct] Governing Council and the occupation government which impede trade union work deflects it away from defending workers’ interests. We also demand that the government refrains from using the anti-union laws decreed by the former regime against the labour movement and its organisations in Iraq.
  4. Speeding up the process for the enactment of a fair and just Labour Law that respects workers rights and guarantees the freedom of trade union organisation, assembly and demonstration and to strike, and preventing government interferences and the government-backed domination of political parties.
  5. The involvement of all workers federations and unions in Iraq without exception in any discussion relating to the Labour Law, whether being prepared by the government or in Parliament, in order to ensure that workers’ views are heard and to guarantee the rights of workers to organise themselves.

Based on the outcome of the meeting and as a result of trade union solidarity and coordination among the federations and unions present, it has been decided to form a Coordinating Committee for trade union work in Basra, from the participants in this meeting.

Long live Iraq

Long live the trade union movement in Iraq


General Federation of Iraqi Workers in Basra (GFIW)

General Federation of trade Unions and Workers
Councils in Basra

Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU)

Union of Engineering Professionals in Southern Electricity Sector

June 2012  

Next article – Use and throw-away workers (Part 2)

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