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Iraqi Trade Unionist Appeal


Iraqi Trade Unionist Appeal

We have just received an urgent appeal from the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions which we feel needs to be passed on to the largest possible number of trade unionists in the next several days.

On Saturday, dozens of US troops in ten armoured cars raided the IFTU temporary headquarters in Baghdad, smashing windows, seizing documents, and even tearing down posters and banners condemning terrorism. Eight IFTU leaders were arrested, but were released the following day, Unharmed. No reason or explanation was given for the raid.

The IFTU is calling on President Bush to conduct a full investigation of the raid and to ensure that it will not be repeated. The United States must respect the right of workers under international law to have free and independent trade unions.

Please visit this page and send on your protest to the White House today: http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=22 Please pass on this message to all your lists. Thanks very much.

Eric Lee, Labourstart
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Background information on the struggle to form free labour unions in Iraq:

Press Release by Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions
http://www.ocnus.net/cgi-bin/exec/view.cgi?archive=32&num=7636

Iraq: Workers resist US ban on unions
http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2003/560/560p15.htm

US Labor Against War: Campaign against occupation and for Iraqi Labor
rights http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org/campaigns/campaign.php?topic_id=1

Conditions Grim for Iraqi Workers,

Conditions for much of Iraq's workforce has stayed the same or worsened since the recent invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein's government this spring.

The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq has decreed a base wage of $60 a month wage for all workers, which is the base wage workers received under Saddam Hussein. However, in recent months, Iraqi workers' buying power has been reduced by the introduction of imported goods, as well as the fact that they no longer receive profit sharing bonuses for state-run firms or subsidies for food and housing.

Additionally, in 1987 Saddam Hussein forbade the formation of unions in Iraq 's publicly-owned enterprises. This law is still in effect under the occupation. In fact, a law has been decreed that any action that might threaten the economy could lead to the arrest of individuals and their imprisonment as "prisoners of war."

Another new piece of legislation has opened the door to privatization of state enterprises, set a 15% tax rate for corporations, and placed no restrictions on foreign ownership or the repatriation of capital. Workers were concerned that with privatization half would be let go.

Since the spring, the independently organized Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) has organized shops in more than a dozen industries: oil & gas, rail, vegetable oil & food, transport, textiles, leather products, construction and carpentry, transport and communication, electrical & municipalities, printers, mechanics, service industry and the agriculture & irrigation workers. These unions organize in a number of cities and the IFTU held a meeting of 400 trade unionists at the transport union headquarters in May.

In today's occupied Iraq there are no unemployment benefits. With 70% of the work force unemployed, unemployed demonstrations have broken out spontaneously, others have been organized by the newly-formed Union of the Unemployed.

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