Thursday, June 01, 2006

Microcosm of Iraq's Woes

This is pretty old news, dating back from May 7th, but considering this small article reports on Iraq's trade union movement, I believe I can make the assumption no one really knows much about Iraq's labor movement and the hell of a hard time it's had since its reconstitution just short after the invasion of Iraq.

The article quickly shows how Iraq's trade unions are a microcosm of Iraq's worst woes.

Here it is in full, via

Workers union urges better protection of oil installations, personnel

By Ibrahim Sharif

Azzaman, May 7, 2006

The Iraqi Federation of Workers Trade Unions (IFTU) has urged the authorities to upgrade security measures at the country’s oil installations to protect personnel.

Oil workers and installations are target of repeated attacks by saboteurs and rebels opposing U.S. occupation.

The IFTU organized a special meeting to discussion the oil industry and conditions of oil workers amid an upsurge in violence in both Kirkuk in the south and Basra in the north – the country’s major oil producing centers.

Oil refining operations at Baiji, a stronghold of anti-U.S. resistance, have been targets of repeated attacks which have reduced output to less than the half.

The union criticized current security measures which it described as “inadequate”.

It said the newly formed battalions charged with protecting oil installations were driven “more by their sectarian and ethnic grounds” rather than concern over the country’s sole hard cash earner.

“The oil sector must be place in honest hands whose aim is the service of the Iraqi people who are not affected by their party affiliation or ethnic and sectarian backgrounds,” the union said in a statement.

The IFTU said it opposed all schemes “to privatize the oil sector because the country’s oil reserves are a property of the Iraqi people only.”
I feel much anger when I think about Iraq, the way decent Americans were feared into supporting a war based on false premises and doctored intelligence and the innocent Iraqis who have died as their society has slipped into anarchy. Yet nothing angers me more than seeing Iraq's best hope -- it's liberal and secular labor movement -- being neglected by the occupation as the jihadists and insurgents target it for wanting what we take for granted here in the West.

If there is a Left deserving of its name, the IFTU and the whole Iraqi trade union movement should be the recipient of its solidarity and its resources. They are uniquely positioned to give Iraq what it needs most: economic development, liberalism, and secularism.