Iraqi union leader goes free: birthday victory in Basra
I’ve blogged before about the legal case being taken against Iraqi oil union leader Hassan Juma’a, as part of the Southern Oil Company and the Iraqi Oil Ministry’s attempts to silence him. Last time I blogged, his case had been postponed for the fourth time until mid-May. Last week on 1 July, the eighth trial date saw the prosecution yet again offer no evidence in support of their claims that Hassan Juma’a was guilty of undermining the Iraqi economy by organising illegal strikes and publicly criticising the privatisation of Iraq’s oil.
At last, the judge ran out of patience and threw the case out, allowing Hassan Juma’a to go free. Which, as it was his birthday, was a great present to hand both Hassan, the oil workers he represents, and the Iraqi trade union movement which is still fighting, more than forty years after being shackled by Saddam’s laws (the law used to prosecute Hassan dated back to 1969), and over ten years after their country was supposedly liberated.
Hassan’s case saw yet another global campaign of solidarity, keeping that the Iraqi authorities aware that the case was being watched, and ensuring that Hassan knew he was in the thoughts of thousands of trade unionists worldwide. The campaign was run by IndustriALL, the global union federation covering oil unions, to which Hassan’s union belongs. General Secretary Jyrki Raina said after the verdict:
“We are all delighted that this malicious attack on you and the union you head has finally ended with you completely vindicated. We pledge continued international support to your struggles for oil workers in Iraq and assure you that the campaign for a just and ILO compliant Labour Law in your country will be a major priority for our work in your region. Congratulations on your victory!”
Iraqi trade union confederation GFIW reacted laconically: “He is free. International solidarity works.”