Iraqi government uses Saddam’s laws against electricity unions
The laws that Saddam Hussein used to repress Iraqi trade unions are still being used today to prevent working people defending and promoting their rights. On 21 July, the new Electricity Minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, ordered his Ministry’s police force to storm union offices, list and seize all their property, and close them down – the order was put into action the very next day. Anyone protesting is to be considered a terrorist, which is a vicious slur, bcecause the unions in the industry have stood up to the terrorists since Saddam fell. Al-Shahristani is using Saddam’s law that banned trade unions in the public sector, a law that, unlike so many of Saddam’s laws, has never been repealed. The TUC has protested to the Iraqi Government and called on the British Government to intervene, as well as co-ordinating international protests with the International Chemical, Energy and Mining global union federation (ICEM) and the International Trade Union Confederation. You can take action too – please spread the word among fellow activists, and help these brave trade unionists in Iraq, who have suffered so much, withstand this latest assault.
The action against the electricity unions has come just weeks after al-Shahristani took over the Electricity Ministry following mass protests by Iraqi people fed up with power shortages and power cuts. Those protests were spontaneous demonstrations, but were supported by the unions, and they were brutally dealt with by Iraqi forces who shot and killed several protestors. Al-Shahristani clearly doesn’t like unions who stand in his way, as he showed at the Oil Ministry when he attacked the Southern Oil Company union IFOU. He called them terrorists too. But unions across Iraq are ralying to support their colleagues in the electricity industry, and the attack is uniting trade unionists across political divides. Even the Electricity Ministry’s police apologised to union leaders as they carried out their orders.