From the TUC

Iraqi oil leader walks free (yet again!)

10 Nov 2013, By

Hassan Juma'a

Hassan Juma’a, head of the Iraqi General Union of Oil Employees. Photographed in Iraq by David Bacon in 2005, for the photo documentary Oil for Freedom

When I blogged about Hassan Juma’a in July, it was to celebrate the fact that his three month court ordeal – facing charges of disrupting oil production by holding violent demonstrations and calling illegal strikes – was over. I was wrong. But now, I hope I’m right!

Hassan is the leader of the powerful oil workers union in the Southern Oil Company, which produces billions of dollars in oil for the beleaguered Iraqi economy. His members are better off than many in Iraq, but their fight for better terms and conditions is important for all Iraqi workers, and the union is a major proponent of distributing Iraq’s enormous oil wealth fairly for the whole Iraqi population.

Neither demand makes him particularly popular with the management of the company or the rulers of Iraq. In July, a judge finally lost patience with the failure of the Southern Oil Company to provide any evidence for their claim against Hassan, and threw the case out. But then the Oil Minister stepped in and persuaded an appellate court to reinstate the charges.

Finally (well, fingers crossed), the Second Criminal Court in Basra confirmed that, without evidence, the Iraqi Government couldn’t keep dragging Hassan  to court, and threw the charges out again. Hassan’s sent a message of thanks to his supporters in the trade union movement globally and in particular in the USA, where he attended the AFLCIO convention in September. The campaign goes on to get the charges against his fellow trade unionists discharged as well.

Hopefully, the Iraqi government will now go back to the drawing board and start treating workers and their unions with respect – including an ILO-compliant labour law – working together for a fair and socially just Iraq.

4 Responses to Iraqi oil leader walks free (yet again!)

  1. Louisa Solomon
    Nov 20th 2013, 8:45 am

    Forward with the struggles of the workers ! Forward!

  2. Tahsin B?L?AY
    Nov 21st 2013, 4:55 pm

    emekçilerin tüm dünya üzerinde insan onuruna yara??r çal??ma ve ya?ama ko?ullar?na kavu?mas? için sonuna kadar sava??m verilmelidir. bu amaçla tüm dünya emekçilerinin ortak sava??m? zorunludur.

  3. Lone
    Jan 5th 2014, 11:06 am

    There are two very good arguments for etnniialimg ALL public sector unions:? Unions & Democrat Party Ponzi Scheme The unions, and ESPECIALLY public sector unions, have morphed into nothing more than the money laundering arm of the Democrat Party. Do the public sector unions negotiate their contracts with YOU, the taxpayer? No they do NOT The public sector unions negotiate their contracts with the local liberal Democrat politicians (wink, wink), and then LO AND BEHOLD !! at election time, those same unions who just got big fat raises and cushy retirement packages from the liberal Democrats (at YOUR expense), turn around and donate all of their union dues to the liberal Democrat politicians who gave them the raises.This is a CLEAR conflict of interest !!!? Sustainability You can NOT have public sector unions with employment packages (income + benefits + retirement) making 2x what the local citizens, who pay for the public sector unions, are making.You cannot have public sector unions with employment packages worth $100,000/year when the average employment packages of the local citizens is $45,000/year.That is NOT sustainable! Or, put another way, Socialism works fine until the money runs out.

  4. Owen Tudor

    Owen Tudor
    Jan 5th 2014, 12:53 pm

    Lone, apart from the gratuitous offensiveness of making your argument under an article about the unjustified harassment of a union leader and many of his fellow members (these were the people who risked their lives by sleeping at their workplaces after the invasion of Iraq to prevent terrorists blowing them up), you’re wrong on both counts.

    First, how is unions defending their members’ jobs and wages by supporting politicians who will fund those jobs and wages different from businessmen using their customers’ money to back their get-rich-quick schemes, privatising publically-paid for assets, making profits out of private sector contracts etc? Some might say the first benefits society as a whole, while the second only benefits the rich 1%. But at the very least, this is how democracy works.

    Second, your argument would be valid (if we only consider income taxes) if the total wage bill of the public sector exceeded that of the private sector. But it doesn’t, because there are far fewer public than private sector workers. And, given the disparity in those employed in the public and private sector, comparisons of wage levels and pension contributions need to take account of things like the relative skill levels involved (in the UK, qualifications required of public sector workers are, on average, higher than those required in the private sector), and the fact that private sector employers take such a hefty slice out of their low-paid workers wages, often benefitting from state employment and wage subsidies. THAT really IS leeching off the state, but what entrepreneur would be honest enough to admit that they are doing it?