IFTU defended in today’s Guardian

Support for Iraqi unions
Phil Lenton (Letters, May 10), doubts the credibility of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions. I was part of a delegation that recently visited Iraqi Kurdistan. The IFTU and its Kurdish counterparts are militant trade unionists whose affiliates not only participate in strike action but, in the teeth of savage attacks by fundamentalist and Ba’athist groups, are building a strong trade union movement – the bedrock of civil society. The teachers’ union alone has more than 300,000 members and is growing.
Rather than belittle such a process, Mr Lenton should, as does the TUC and many of its allied unions, welcome the development of genuine unions. Iraq is a dangerous place to be a trade unionist. IFTU members are particular targets – they risk their lives every day, not just their “jobs and livelihoods”. Our duty is to show solidarity, not to sneer from the sidelines. This is why we now have a TUC-Iraq solidarity committee. But perhaps Mr Lenton thinks the British trade union movement is also compromised, since the vast bulk of its training and education programmes are financed by the British state?
Prof Mary Davis, London Metropolitan University
Phil Lenton says Britain is “no model” for Iraq. Well, we don’t have mass graves or genocide. Videos of our tortured children aren’t left at our front door. And we can laugh at our leaders without fear and are free to write idiotic letters to the Guardian.
Alan Johnson, Labour Friends of Iraq