Breakthrough in Government Talks?

The IWPR reports that The new Iraqi government will include the former prime minister Ayad Allawi, considered key to creation of a national unity administration but disputes over allocation of ministerial posts continue to dog negotiations.

Over 70 MPs have backed Commons motion from LFIQ Chair Dave Anderson on labour rights in Iraq

That this House supports the independent and democratic Iraqi trade union movement, mainly centred around the newly merged Iraqi Workers Federation (IWF) and the Kurdish trade unions, which play an important role in the re-building of Iraqs devastated national economy and consolidating the current political process in order to create a democratic, united and federal state after years of repression and hardship at the hands of the deposed dictatorship of Saddam Hussein; is, therefore, deeply disturbed that on 8th August 2005 the Iraqi Council of Ministers issued decree 8750 which declared that union finances would be taken over by the government and that a new law on trade unionism would be developed by the government, without mentioning freedom of association, which is a basic human right and one of the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), or the involvement of the Iraqi trade union movement; is further disturbed at recent reports that the Iraqi government has replaced the leadership of the independent engineers’ union with its own appointeees in a prima facie breach of freedom of association; welcomes the decision of Iraqi professional organisations to create jointly with the IWF an umbrella organisation to oppose decree 8750; congratulates the TUC for initiating global protests against decree 8750 and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions for supporting the IWF’s complaint formally requesting that the ILO intervene directly with the Iraqi government; and supports the IWF and others in all available democratic means to stop this undemocratic practice against Iraqi workers.

Commons motion congratulating LFIQ Joint President

Dave Anderson has tabled a Commons motion congratulating Harry Barnes on being awarded honorary membership of the Iraqi trade union movement. The motion has so far been backed by the new North East Derbyshire MP Natascha Engel as well as Labour MPs Mike Gapes, Stephen Pound and Rob Marris as well as Conservative MP Peter Bottomley and LibDem MP Bob Russell.
The motions reads as follows: That this House congratulates Harry Barnes, the hon. Member for North East Derbyshire from 1987 to 2005, on being granted honorary membership of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, the main new Iraqi trade union centre formed after the fall of Saddam Hussein; notes that honorary membership was conferred on Mr Barnes at a summit meeting between the Iraqi trade union movement and a delegation organised by Labour Friends of Iraq in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan in early April; and believes that the conferral of honorary membership is a fitting tribute to a man who first experienced Iraq in the mid-50s when he did his national service in that country, who consistently opposed the invasion of Iraq and then united with those who took different views to promote the interests of the free Iraqi trade union movement and wider civil society as a joint President of Labour Friends of Iraq.

A struggle to exist

Tim Lezard reports on the LFIQ delegation to Iraq in the New Statesman. He quotes the vice-president of the Iraqi Workers Federation, Hadi Ali – We have tried to build new, independent trade unions, totally different from the old ones, but Decree 8750 is stopping us. We struggled to beat Saddam. Now we are struggling to build a strong, federal and democratic Iraq.

LFIQ Chair defends Iraqi unions in Foreign Office Questions

Tuesday 25th April
Mr. David Anderson (Blaydon) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that the Iraqi Government are in breach of international law by the way in which they have implemented decree 8750? They have also reinstated decree 150, which attacks the country’s free and independent trade union movement. Trade union assets have been seized and public sector workers denied the right to join trade unions. Will he agree to meet Iraq’s trade union representatives in this country to try and resolve these matters?
Dr. Howells: I have certainly met trade unionists from Iraq, and would be only too glad them again. I am not aware of the case that my hon. Friend has presented to the House.

Will Hutton backs Iraqi trade union rights

Will Hutton examines the Euston Manifesto and includes the following perceptive comment on why the liberal press has ignored the rise of the new Iraqi labour movement.
Hutton says – Because Iraqi reconstruction has been a fiasco, the liberal temptation is to side intellectually with the insurgents. But, for example, trade unions are forbidden to organise in the Iraqi public sector because of the Saddam Hussein ban still in force; the comment pages of the liberal press are hardly full of articles insisting that the Iraq government entrenches union rights. Little space is given to arguments about the wider importance of building a sustainable democracy. Rather, there is another piece on why the US and Britain must get out of Iraq now to allow, presumably, the establishment of a theocratic, authoritarian state.

Second-hand mobile phone solidarity

The TUC has launched an appeal for unions and their members to pass on their used mobile phones to the Iraqi trade union movement as an act of second-hand solidarity.
Unions representing workers in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan face incredible challenges in defending working people and rebuilding democracy. One of their requests for solidarity from British trade unionists is the provision of mobile phones – crucial for any union organiser these days, but especially in Iraq where travel can be dangerous and landlines aren’t sufficiently reliable or widespread.
But mobile phones can be expensive to buy in Iraq (and UK phone systems don’t work there yet), so buying new ones could eat up scarce union resources. Instead, the Iraqi trade union movement has identified a way of easily converting old European mobile phones for use in Iraq. So now the TUC Iraq Solidarity Committee has opened an appeal for used mobile phones.
TUC General Councillor Sue Rogers, Chair of the TUC Iraq Solidarity Committee, said: ‘Rather than throwing your old mobile phone out, put it to good use rebuilding trade unionism in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Their need is great, and this would be such a small effort, but a big contribution.’
Old mobile phones (and their chargers, of course) should be sent to the TUC Aid for Iraq appeal at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS.

International trade union movement lambasts interference in Iraqi union affairs

The ICFTU has protested to the Iraqi Prime Minister about his governments labour laws.
Mr. Prime Minister, the ICFTU strongly objects against this inordinate interference in the designation of the leadership of the IFTU. Dictating to a union how to organise its leadership elections, and whom not to include in it, is a blatant violation of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 87 on Freedom of Association. Although Iraq did not ratify this convention, it has an obligation as an ILO member to respect the principles enshrined in it. I therefore strongly urge you to ensure that the IFTU benefits of complete freedom in organising its trade union elections and designating its trade union leadership. Finally, I urge you to ratify ILO Convention 87 on the right to freedom of association.
Thanks to LabourStart