Iraq: Workers’ struggles — historic and today

Links to three articles on New windows.

History repeats itself: Iraq, labour rights and democracy

A presentation in which US anti-war activist and trade unionist Gene Bruskin gives an outline of the history of Iraq’s labour movement, and compares the current occupation to imperialist machinations of the past. Bruskin also outlines the current situation facing the Iraqi working class. This is a sketch: it does not deal with how the revolution movement of 1958 could have succeeded, for example, or take up the policies of the Communist Party which led to repeated defeats of heroic workers’ struggle. But for those new to the Iraqi workers’ history, or the present position, it’s well worth a read.

Working Conditions and Labour Rights in Iraq – eye witness account

An international team of trade unionists visited Iraq last year to observe the state of the trade union movement. They discovered widespread, massive violations of workers ‘ basic rights; 70% unemployment with no social safety net, human rights abuses, increasing control by U.S. corporations of the most basic elements of the Iraqi economy, and shockingly, CPA enforcement of a Saddam Hussein-era law that bars public sector workers and those employed by public enterprises from joining or being represented by unions. This report documents these conditions and the observations of the delegation. It’s available online to download as pdf file.

Teachers in Mosul demand unpaid wages and threaten authorities with strike

Returning to work after the holidays, hundreds of teachers gathered to protest and demand restitution for unpaid wages. Teachers gathered in front of the Education Directorate in Mosul, waving banners and placards demanding compensation for wages, which were already six months overdue. To avoid disrupting student exams, the teachers decided not to commence their protest until after the exam period. The ongoing protests, and threat of a major walkout by the teachers, forced the Education Directorate to dispense 60 dollars as emergency pay for each teacher. In the case where state authorities refused to pay the overdue wages, tens of schools could potentially shutdown if these teachers were to make good on their threat to go on strike.

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June 2004