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Iraqi Union Leaders Speak

by J.S. Whitfield Sunday, Jun. 19, 2005 at 2:36 PM
chilaborantiwar@yahoo.com 773-561-0908 1718 M street, NW, #153, Washington DC 20036 18 Jun 2005

US Labor Against the War includes affiliates from Nat'L labor organizations, Central Labor Councils, Regional Labor Organizations, Large Locals, (10,000 + members), Small Locals(10,000 - members), Allied Labor Organizations, Labor Anti-war groups, and other Labor Organizations.

Iraqi Union Leaders Speak

US Labor Against the War hosted the Iraq Labor tour (www.uslaboragainstwar.org)

in Chicago Friday night at UNITE HERE with a full house turn out.

USLAW Iraq Labor Tour goals are to inform the US labor movement about the difficult conditions facing Iraq’s labor movement, and the common challenges of privatization, outsourcing and attacks on workers rights experienced by workers in both Iraq and the US.

The goal of building international labor solidarity with the Iraqi trade Union movement

was emphasized.

They are also presenting US audiences with seldom-heard progressive, secular voices, while personalizing the situation of the Iraqi working people.

And to raise the level of understanding in the US labor movement about the impact of US foreign policy on workers’ rights, jobs, living standards and working conditions, while also calling upon American Unions and the AFL-CIO to demand an immediate end to the occupation, and a return of all US troops to their homes and families, with a reallocation of funds from militarism to meeting human needs.

Amjad Ali Aljawhary, the representative for FWCUI in North America, first pointed out that they are calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq by US forces NOW.

He emphasized that the labor movement does not need the occupation, but what they do need is an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

The occupation has gone on for more than two years, now 27 months, having devastating effects on the country, Iraqi society, and even on the government that has been put in place with cars being detonated, and suicide bombings. Nevertheless, he said that they are still able to make the distinction between the Bush Administration, and the working people of America. He stated that the phony election has divided everyone, and has only led Iraq to the edge of a civil war.

The minimum wage is . / month, not enough to pay even ½ of the rent, clothing is a considered luxury, and they don’t believe the 40% unemployment figure that has been put out, but are sure that it is much higher.

There is no proper treatment in the hospitals in a society that that was once very advanced in medicine, and corruption is as rampant as it was under Saddam.

The occupation has allowed for only the worse, preventing the reconstruction of Iraqi society. Money has been redirected to the security forces without providing security, and not leading towards an end to the occupation.

Security in fact has gotten worse, with the dead being found lying in the street, clean drinking water is severely inadequate and is only sold. Radical change needs to take place in sewage, from 12 pm to 4 pm there is no electricity, much too often in sweltering heat. People need fuel, but it is too expensive to buy, and disposal of garbage is bad, as is health care, needless to say.

Though they represent free trade unions, the same labor code is in existence as under Saddam.

People fear going out on errands, and it is worse for women, who need to have a male escort. People still fear-criticizing Saddam for their own security.

Falah Awan, the President of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions of Iraq

Spoke in Arabic with Amjad interpreting. He said that most everyone agrees that the occupation needs to end with an immediate withdrawal of American troops. What some disagree on is the period of time.

He said that they don’t want projects to be just hopes.

The government is an installed government based on ethnic divisions, and is not sovereign but is a translator of US policy in Iraq. Things have gotten worse with an ever-present threat of civil war, while the Iraqi labor movement has been an alternative to this quagmire, though the government has been installing its own unions their own interests.

He said the task is supporting the civilian portion of society, and the importance of restoring civility should be a concern for the whole world.

He said, “We call on secular groups to present alternatives to this the dark scenario in Iraq, and to help them build a secular, and progressive labor movement with International support to prevent right wing tendencies to empower the civilian front.” This task he stated is not only an Iraqi worker task, but to fight for just Labor Laws, and a constitution to end the domination of right wing and reactionary powers, but with humanitarian goals.

He called on all to work together to end the occupation in a civil manner.

THE FWCUI WAS FOUNDED AFTER ITS FIRST CONFERENCE ON DECEMBER 8, 2003, WHICH INCLUDED REPRESENTATIVES OF ELECTED COUNCILS, AND PREPARATORY COMMITTEES IN SEVERAL PLANTS, ENTERPRISES, AND FACTORIES. IT HAS LEAD AND ASSISTED IN STRIKES AND JOB ACTIONS FOR BETTER CONDITIONS IN TEXTILE, LEATHER, PEPSI AND OTHER INDUSTRIAL ENTERPRISES. PRIOR TO ITS FORMATION, MANY OF ITS LEADERS AND ACTIVISTS HAD BEEN ACTIVE IN THE UNION OF UNEMPLOYED IRAQIS, A NETWORK OPERATING IN SEVERAL CITIES OF IRAQ THAT MOBILIZED FOR JOBS OR BENEFITS FOR UNEMPLOYED IRAQIS. THE FEDERATIONS GOAL IS TO BUILD WORKER ORGANIZATIONS IN IRAQ THAT ARE INDEPENDENT, DEMOCRATIC, AND FREE OF GOVERNMENT CONTROL. FURTHERMORE, THEY SEEK TO BUILD UNIONS FREE OF RELIGIOUS, POLITICAL, , GENDER, AND ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION,. FWCUI DEMANDS THE IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL WITHDRAWAL OF ALL OCCUPYING FORCES FROM IRAQ. FOR MORE INFO: (www.uuiraq.org)



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