The Iraqi government has withdrawn an order banning eight key union organisers belonging to the powerful Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU).
The union leaders were ordered out of the southern city of Basra after the Western backed government of Nuri al-Maliki said they were members of “militias” and helped in the smuggling of oil.
The union denied these charges. Hassan Juma’a Awad, the head of the IFOU, called on unions around the world to rally to the oil workers.
In a statement he said, “This act is a clear evidence that the Iraqi state seeks to liquidate trade unions in this important Iraqi economic sector. It is important to note that the south is the main source of oil in Iraq.”
Sabah Jawad, the spokesman for the Naftana, the organisation that campaigns for Iraqi oil rights, told Socialist Worker that the government reversed the order following mounting pressure from Iraqi unions and the international anti-war movement.
Jawad said, “We told Hussain al-Shahristani, the Iraqi oil minister, that this was not acceptable, and informed him that we were aware of the measures being taken by the oil ministry”
US and European oil multinationals are scrambling to grab Iraq’s vast oil reserves. George Bush made the take-over of oil one of his key “indicators” that the “surge” is succeeding.
The return of the multinationals, 36 years after Iraq nationalised its oil, has been greeted with widespread anger.
The oil workers have been at the head of the movement resisting the hand over of the industry to western companies.
“The withdrawal of the order is a victory for international solidarity and Iraqi trade unions,” Jawad said.