The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) has postponed its planned strike on Monday over the handing over of Iraq’s oil to multinationals. It postponed the action after it won negotiations with prime minister Nouri al Maliki in Baghdad set for Tuesday.
The delegation is set to return on Thursday when, if negotiations have failed to bear fruit, a new strike date will be set.
Union president Hassan Jumaa Awad said that unions in the Northern Oil Company in Kirkuk, and the Mechanics and Engineers Union and Dora Refinery Union in Baghdad are ready to take solidarity strike action with the IFOU.
The union, representing 26,000 workers, has held three previous strikes since 2003, each time stopping exports.
The Iraqi government has declared strike action by the union as illegal.
Hassan Jumaa Awad said, “We are working within the law. We are not afraid of arrest and imprisonment because we know we have both the legal and the moral right in this dispute.
“We are asking all unions and organisations which believe in human rights to stand with us and support us in our legitimate demands.”
The union’s demands range from a restoration of a bonus scheme, land for homes, approval of outstanding holidays and full time status for temporary workers, to a long-held and reiterated demand for inclusion in consultation over the country’s oil law. See www.basraoiluion.org for more details.
The current draft of the oil law proposes giving multinational companies the primary role in developing Iraq's huge untapped oilfields, under contracts lasting up to 30 years.
Hassan Jumaa Awad said, “We ask our friends not to link withdrawal with the oil law, especially since the US claimed that it came to Iraq as a liberator and not in order to control Iraq’s resources.
“The general public in Iraq is totally convinced that Bush wants to rush the promulgation of the oil law so as to be leaving Iraq with a victory of sorts, because his project is failing every day and the occupation is collapsing in all parts of Iraq.”
The number of death threats against union leaders has escalated since the strike was first declared.
The Hands Off Iraqi Oil campaign is holding a protest in solidarity with the IFOU and over Shell’s involvement in the oil law on Tuesday 15 May at Shell’s AGM, 8.30am-12pm at the Hammersmith Novotel, 1 Shortlands, London W6. www.handsoffiraqioil.org