Iraqi oil workers want better pay for temps: “we are like the camels that carry the gold, but are fed thorns.”
All over the world, unions demonstrate that they stand for justice for all workers – the strongest and the most vulnerable. The Oil and Gas Workers Union in Kirkuk, Northern Iraq organized a peaceful protest last Sunday (13 February 2011) to demand better pay and conditions for temporary (or ‘day’) workers.
The president of the union, affiliated to the General Federation of Workers (GFIW) warned that workers are ready to strike if the state-owned Northern Oil Company neglects the workers’ demands.
“They should pay attention and respond to our demands, otherwise we will stop work, and it is we who produce the wealth of this country, which ends up in the pockets of officials and MPs. We are like camels that carry the gold, but are fed thorns,” said Brother Jamal Abdel Jabbar (Abu Shwan), president of the union in Kirkuk.
He told the GFIW website that his union was protesting peacefully to lift injustices inflicted on temporary workers, and told the AFP wire service that: “if the management of the NOC does not meet our demands we have several means to pressure them, including a strike.”
The company employs 15,000 people, including 3,700 day workers, who Mr Jabbar said would join in a strike. AFP reports that there are employees at NOC who earn $2,000 a month while temporary workers earn just $210.