“I am desperately saddened by news of Bob’s untimely death. I worked with him and his union for years and you always knew with Bob that what you saw was what you got. The world of work is weaker today with his passing, but his legacy will be the proud, strong union that he leaves behind. Bob had strong views. One of them was opposing the invasion of Iraq. Yet he and his union were big enough after that to extend their solidarity to the new unions in Iraq. On every level he showed that standing up for your beliefs and rights is a thing of honour and pride. We will miss him badly.”
Dave Anderson MP for Labour Friends of Iraq.
LFIQ Joint President Dave Anderson has tabled a Commons motion on Labour and union law in Iraq.
That this House notes that the international trade union movement has urged successive Iraqi governments to amend the labour and trade union laws which place substantial restrictions on the fundamental rights of workers, including to associate freely, to bargain collectively and to strike; further notes that the US last year put under review Iraq’s trade preferences, in large part over the Iraqi government’s failure to adopt ILO-complaint legislation; and respectfully urges the Iraqi authorities, in full consultation with the trade unions, to implement new laws that overcome Saddam Hussein’s restrictions on the fundamental rights of Iraqi workers so that their organisations can play a full role in helping construct a pluralist Iraq.
The following letter appears in a truncated form in this week’s New Statesman.
It is my personal view of the coverage in that paper of the 10th anniversary of the anti-war march and the intervention. Those who founded LFIQ in 2004 had radically different views of the intervention but came together to help support the new Iraqi forces that sought to build a democratic and federal Iraq.
We made some difference against the odds and several British unions, which had opposed the intervention, and the TUC played a good role in supporting the new labour movement in Iraq.
The unions are in a bad way in Iraq and the country, while far less violent, has yet to resolve major issues concerning the deepening of democracy and civil society as well as relations between Shias, Sunnis and Kurds. The jury is still out and solidarity is still needed.
Continue reading Iraq – ten years on
Despite warm words when LFIQ met the Iraqi PM in Baghdad in 2008, the position of the independent labour movement in Iraq (there are differences in the Kurdistan Region) continues to alarm those who favour trade unions, alongside other independent civil society bodies, as a way or overcoming sectarian differences and of ensuring that social justice and equality are hardwired into Iraq as it uses its vast natural wealth to overcome the legacy of fascism. This report looks at the situation in Basra and powerfully illustrates the need for a new labour law that brings Iraq into compliance with ILO standards.
Luke Akehurst at LabourList explains and links to e petition
Trade union leader Diana Holland hails the Arab Spring here
The General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW) calls for the release of trade unionist Jihad Jalil
The Iraqi security forces have arrested a group of demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, this morning Friday 27/05/2011, while they were participating in a mass demonstration. The trade unionist Jihad Jalil, a member of the Mechanic and Printing Workers Union, was among those detained without any charge or legal justification.
The General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW), while calling for the immediate release of all the detainees, including the trade unionist Jihad Jalil, stresses once again that his participation along with his colleagues and all sections of our people in the peaceful demonstrations is a constitutional right and is in accordance with international labor standards, human rights and the right of expression and peaceful demonstration, to establish the values of true democracy and human rights in our new Iraq.
The Executive Committee of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW)
27 May 2011
Please back this campaign in defence of Iraqi trade unions
Eight years after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s odious regime which used genocide, chemical weapons and torture to repress the Iraqi people and destabilised the wider region with wars of aggression, the record of the elected authorities is infinitely better but mixed.
The news from Camp Ashraf is deeply disturbing while the recent human rights report from the US State Department details concerns on media freedoms, corruption, torture and other human rights abuses. Democracy in Iraq is fledgling and fragile and requires nurturing by a vibrant civil society as well as external political, cultural and commercial assistance.
Trade unions can unite workers whatever their religion, encourage greater participation by women and help nurture networks independent of the state to strengthen the foundations of democracy. The unions were crushed by Saddam and have re-emerged but are still saddled by old restrictions. In order to strengthen their role in the new, democratic Iraq, a new labour law, based on international best practice, is urgently needed. Whatever view people took on the intervention in 2003, these issues should unite all those concerned for the future of Iraq.
Gary Kent and John Slinger
Labour Friends of Iraq, London