Iraq: Important victory of industrial strikes

We received these short news items on significant labour struggles in Iraq in the oil industry in Basra, and a gathering of the Electricity workers in Nasiriyah. We publish them for the interest of our readers. They show that the Iraqi labour movement is beginning to recover from the devastation of recent years and achieving important victories.

  • On April 5th the workers of the leather industries who are more than two thousand workers in two workplaces, started a strike, calling for safety compensations. On April 8th the administration agreed to pay the workers with a promise to issue a formal confirmation on April 12th.
  • The workers in the textile industries in Baghdad and the furniture industries have joined the strike since April 12th.
  • The workers of Al- Zawra enterprise have succeeded in their efforts to receive the compensation.
  • On April 17th about two hundred workers in the petrochemical industries, held a gathering, calling for their arrears. During the gathering they also called for withdrawal of the punishments which were issued against the trade unionist Kareem Johi.

 

The Ministry of Industry and Metals has accepted to recommend the Iraqi parliament to issue instructions to the Ministry of Finance, in order to assure the required amount for the payments.

  • Faisal Hamdan, during workers’ protests in the petrochemical industries (From the archive)Faisal Hamdan, during workers’ protests in the petrochemical industries (From the archive) On April 27th the workers of the leather industries resumed their strike. On April 28th the administration announced officially that compensation will be paid in the next few days. The workers in the textile industries have been acknowledged the same promise. The workers consider this procedure as a victory of their movement.
  • In May the administrations of the leather and textile industries, started paying the compensation to the workers.
  • On April 27th the workers of the oil pipelines in Basra held a gathering inside their workplace, calling for their arrears. The administration has refused to answer their demands or even to negotiate with them, but the workers have threatened to hold a general strike, and to stop all the oil pipes immediately. The leader of the gathering Faisal Hamdan, told the manager overtly that they will stop the flow of oil to the harbours. Under the pressure of the workers, the administration agreed to negotiate with the leader of the gathering, promising him to pay the arrears on May 10th.

 

Demonstration of the electricity workers in Nasiriyah

The gathering of the electricity workers in Nasiriyah.The gathering of the electricity workers in Nasiriyah. On April 28th the workers who are working according to the daily wages system, in the electricity distribution sector in Nasiriyah, held a gathering. The demonstrators called for changing the system of employment, to consider them as permanent employees.

Ahmad Salim, of the FWCUI, one of the leaders of the gathering, told the media "This demonstration is pressure on the authorities, to oblige them to give answer to the workers' demands. One of the workers, Khidhir Bani said, "The main drive to this gathering is the very low level of wages; we are receiving only 4.000 Iraqi Dinars", (4.000 I.D equals less than US$3.5), adding, " we cannot live with these wages".

(May 4th, 2009)