Harry Barnes MP and Gary Kent for Labour Friends of Iraq met Hassan Jumaa al-Asaadi (General Secretary, Southern Oil Company Union and President, Basra Oil Union) on 8th February.
Hassan is in Britain at the invitation of the TUC and will attend the TUC Solidarity Conference on 14th February. He is also working with Iraq Occupation Focus and was accompanied at the meeting by Ewa Jasiewicz of that group and a translator.
We discussed the development of the Oil Union since the fall of Saddam, the problems it had had with Baathist managers, the strike action it took to help remove one such figure as well as the general problems of the oil industry.
Hassan stressed his belief that the mooted privatisation of the oil industry could be resisted mainly by industrial means. Harry Barnes suggested that political means to influence the Iraqi government on this and to improve the labour code could be fruitful.
We discussed his union’s reported relations with the IFTU. He stated that the Oil Union was not part of the IFTU but was semi-independent although it co-ordinated with the IFTU and others, on a non-hostile basis.