From the TUC

Protest now! Iraqi Government attacks teacher trade union

02 Mar 2009, By

I’m in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan) for a TUC workshop for Iraqi and Kurdish trade unionists, and Iraqi Teachers’ Union President Jasim al-Lami has reported an astounding attack on his union’s leadership by the Iraqi Government. The Iraqi Government has proved itself time and time again to be hostile to free trade unionism, and has been censured by the ILO for its restrictive use of Saddam Hussein’s labour laws. Now it has demanded that the leadership of the Iraqi Teachers Union – a well organised union with hundreds of thousands of members, which has taken strike action to secure significant pay increases in recent years – hand over the keys to its headquarters along with membership and other records. The Government wants to force elections on the union (which has already held two leadership elections since 2003), and has told Jasim and his colleagues that they aren’t allowed to stand. If they refuse to do what the Government has told them, they have been threatened with prison terms of 3-5 years, despite having broken no laws. Jasim was jailed in Abu Ghraib for 6 years under Saddam. He says he is willing to go to jail again to defend his union. To protest, see

8 Responses to Protest now! Iraqi Government attacks teacher trade union

  1. Joel
    Mar 2nd 2009, 4:53 pm

    we shouldn’t forget that their trade federation is the only legal federation and that they were align with Hussein prior to the occupation.

  2. Owen Tudor

    Owen Tudor
    Mar 2nd 2009, 7:17 pm

    I think you’re confusing the ITU with the general workers’ federation, sometimes called the IFTU. The ITU is completely independent of the Government – at least, unless it is taken over. It does indeed trace its roots back to the official professional association under Saddam Hussein, but was seized off the Ba’athists shortly after the invasion in 2003, when a completely new leadership was elected – and they in turn were removed in elections in early 2008. There is indeed only one teachers’ union in Iraq (as there are in many other countries), but they are fully supported by their opposite numbers in Iraqi Kurdistan.

  3. Michael Eisenscher
    Mar 2nd 2009, 7:58 pm

    This attack continues a pattern of harassment, brutality, vandalism, theft of union records, freezing union bank accounts, and physical assaults on union leaders that the Iraqi government has continued since it was elected. The pattern, however, was launched by Paul Bremer, who was the U.S. overlord responsible for setting up the Occupation Authority. He threw out most of Saddam’s legal code but kept the 1987 law that make it illegal for public sector and public enterprise employees to organize and collectively bargain in unions of their choosing. Subsequently additional antiunion decrees were issued to supplement the dictatorship’s laws.

    This conduct belies any assertion that Iraq is on the road to democracy. No true democracy can exist where there is not a free labor movement. Letters of protest should be directed to the Maliki regime, but also to Hillary Clinton, the US government’s new puppet master.

  4. stan squires
    Mar 4th 2009, 5:27 pm

    The present gov. in Iraq is a puppet of the USA so its going to be hard for any union to do anything.Its going to be a long struggle.The main struggle at the present time is to get the foreign troops out.Then the working class can concentrate on their own gov.
    In the long run the working class in Iraq will need to take political power into their own hands.That is the only way things will be done for the good of the people.The working class needs to forge a leadership that is independent of the present rulling class and western govs.It is something that needs to be done in many other countries of the world to.

    Stan Squires

  5. Lars
    Mar 5th 2009, 5:45 pm

    Teachers are required in every society, they deserve respect not oppression.

  6. New Iraq oil strategy attempts to walk political fine line at Iraq Oil Report
    Mar 6th 2009, 4:50 am

    […] is demanding the keys and contents of the national office and threatening prison for noncompliance. reports the union, which took to the streets demanding increased pay last year — says the government […]

  7. Mick Adams
    Mar 6th 2009, 12:45 pm

    Respect teachers.

  8. World News » Iraq: Protest now – gov’t attacks teachers’ trade union
    Mar 7th 2009, 8:15 am

    […] Original post by Iraq: Protest now – gov’t attacks teachers’ trade union […]