How the government helps Iraqi trade unions

Commons Answer 17 Jan 2007
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department is providing to strengthen trades unions in Iraq.
Hilary Benn: Under Saddam Husseins regime, trades unions were part of the Ba’ath Party machinery and had very little independence. After the fall of his regime, trades unions effectively collapsed. Trades unions in Iraq are therefore relatively recently established. DFID provides support to trades unions through our Civil Society Fund (CSF) programme. There are two main aspects to this assistance:
training trades union leaders; and
providing a resource centre for trades unions.
DFID-funded training for trades union leaders is conducted through the UK public services trade union, UNISON. The aim is to contribute to the social and economic stability of Iraq by building the capacity of trades unions through the training of a new generation of union leaders. Training has focused on the role of trades unions in the workplace and society; negotiating collective agreements; union organisation; and women’s involvement in the unions.
DFID support for a resource centre for trades unions in Baghdad has been undertaken with the International Centre for Trades Union Rights (ICTUR). The purpose of this project is to establish an independent NGO office to provide information, technical support services, expertise and legal advice to Iraqi trades unions and act as a centre for open discussions between trades unionists and the legal, academic and NGO communities. The centre studies and promotes basic principles of trades union and labour rights throughout Iraq and aims to influence government policies on labour rights and standards.