Oil Change International

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Iraqi Union Set to Strike over Oil Law

UPDATE 5/14 – the strike deadline has now been moved until Thursday May 17th. Take Action to Urge the US Congress to drop the Iraqi Oil Law “Benchmark”

Oil Strike Postponed for Negotiations with Prime Minister

Monday May 14th – The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions has postponed its’ strike for this week.

A 7-member delegation from the IFOU will meet with Prime Minister Nouri
al Maliki in Baghdad tomorrow to continue negotiations.

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 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. ‘Members were balloted and have decided to take action
with us if we strike’.

The Union, representing 26,000 workers, has held three previous strikes
since 2003, each time stopping exports, for up to two days at a time.

The Iraqi government has declared strike action by the Union as illegal.

Speaking from Basra today, union President 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.basraoilunion.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. Oil production in Iraq, like in most
of the Middle East, has been in the public sector since the 1970s.

The Union recently addressed the US Congress and European Parliaments in
a letter asking them not to link withdrawal with the passing of the oil
law. In it Hassan Jumaa Awad said:

We ask our friends not to link withdrawal with the oil law, especially
since the USA 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.’ See here for a full translation.

The proposed strike is the culmination of 4 years of campaigning on
members’ issues involving protests, strikes and worker-lead lock-outs.

In a communiqué announcing the strike, the Union declared: ‘Our demands
for entitlements were ignored despite four years of continued promises
by ministry and government officials…throughout this period we worked to
diffuse anger and resentment and address criticism levelled by our
members who mistakenly thought of us as the ones failing to put forth
their legitimate demands…enough is enough’.

The number of death threats against union leaders has escalated since
the strike was first declared, said Hasan Jumaa Awad. “As soon as the
federation called for the strike, many of our members and officials were
physically threatened by parties active in the political process, with
the aim of thwarting the strike and undermining the message of the
strike organisers.” The Union is taking these threats seriously.
ORIGINAL POST:

Iraq’s largest oil workers’ trade union will strike tomorrow, in protest at the controversial oil law currently being considered by the Iraqi parliament. The move threatens to stop all oil exports from Iraq.

The oil law proposes giving multinational companies the primary role in developing Iraq’s huge untapped oilfields, under contracts lasting up to 30 years. Oil production in Iraq, like in most of the Middle East, has been in the public sector since the 1970s.

The Union, representing 26,000 oil workers, has held three previous
strikes since 2003, each time stopping exports, for up to two days at a
time. The announcement of the strike has spurred negotiations with the
Ministry of Oil, which are ongoing.

Imad Abdul-Hussain, Federation Deputy Chair of the IFOU said: “The
central government must be in total ownership and complete control of
production and the export of oil”. He warned against the controversial
Production Sharing Agreements favored by foreign companies, saying
other forms of co-operation with foreign companies would be acceptable
but not at the level of control and profiteering indicated in the
current Oil Law.

Federation President Hassan Jumaa Awad al Assadi said: ‘The oil law does
not represent the aspirations of the Iraqi people. It will let the
foreign oil companies into the oil sector and enact privatisation under
so called production sharing agreements. The federation calls for not
passing the oil law, because it does not serve the interests of the
Iraqi people.”

The Union is not alone in its’ condemnation of the current oil law.
Opponents of the law also include all of Iraq’s other trade unions, a
number of political parties, and a group of over 60 senior Iraqi oil
experts.

Hassan Jumaa went on to say: “The federation calls on all unions in the
world to support our demands and to put pressure on governments and the
oil companies not to enter the Iraqi oil fields.”

Union members are also demanding an improved salary structure and a
distribution of land for building homes.

Instead of the union’s participation being welcomed, leaders have been
accused of jeopardizing security and threatened with legal action.

Farouq Al-Asadi, the Federation’s Secretary said: ‘The Oil Minister
chooses to forget that the right to strike is guaranteed by the
constitution – we have chosen the legal path’.

Comments (11)

  1. Carlton says:

    If Bush does not get the Iraqi oil then the invasion of Iraq would be for nothing. American troops dont mind dieing for oil, but not for nothing. The oil workers are the last bridge the US has to cross in order to assume the status of empire.

    It would be amazing that Bush will lose Iraq by mens of unarmed workers.

  2. michael krug says:

    The Pentagon is accutely aware of the need for the US military to secure adequate supplies of oil for military operations. The US military is one of the single largest consumers of oil in the world. Recent estimates conclude that Iraq may contain the largest untapped oil reserves in the world; perhaps as much as 200 to over 400 billion barrels, though this may be wishful thinking. However, the important thing is, if one believes these figures, Iraq becomes the greatest source of wealth and power in the world, and the US has an army sitting on top of it all. Don’t expect a military pull-out any time soon!

  3. John Francis Lee says:

    On May 14th Mike Gravel will make public a draft of legislation calling for the repatriation of all American troops from Iraq with 60 days. It is my intention and the intention of many, many other Americans to force the 535 people in Washington DC responsible for this war to end it.

    Solidarity with the 26,000 member of the IFOU and with the 20 some millions of Iraqis whose country has been destroyed by the Neocon invasion and occupation. Keep hold of your oil. Never let go. When American troops are forced to leave Iraq, and they will be, you will then be in possession of the means yourselves to rebuild the country the Neocons destroyed.

  4. Godspeed to the Iraqis who are working to keep their nation and its resources out of the hands of foreign invaders and occupiers.

  5. Vincent says:

    Not only Iraqi Unions should oppose this, but all the world’s Trade unions and all peace loving people should condemn this illegitimate occupation and robbing of Iraq.
    The only way to peace in the world is to respect the soverignty of other countries and to promote the dialogue of civilisations. Promote fair trade between nations and protect the weaker from the powerful.

  6. These Are the Bush/Cheney Orchestrated
    Middle East Wars to Ensure US Military Occupation & Corporate Control of 687.8 Billion Barrels of Middle East Oil Reserves Worth Over
    44 Trillion 707 Billion US Dollars!
    $ 44,707,000,000,000
    General David Petraeus Said,

    The top U.S. commander in Iraq, depicted the situation there as “exceedingly complex and very tough” Thursday and said the U.S. effort “ might become more difficult before it gets easier”.

    To General David Petraeus & Congress:
    It’s Not Complex! It’s Very, Very Simple!
    (Simple Fact #1 )

    The Bush/Cheney Administration Invades Iraq Based On Lies To Ensure US Corporate Control of Middle East Oil Reserves & Military Industrial Profit, Installs a Democracy With Bullets & Bombs, Creates an (Oil Rich) US Backed Shia Controlled Government in Iraq, Which Will Force 6 Million (Oil Empty) Sunnis in Iraq To Choose Between Eating Sand or Setting Bombs! Oil accounts for more 70% of Iraq’s GDP and 95% of government revenue.
    (Simple Fact #2 )
    Al-Qaeda and The People in the Middle East Do Not Hate Americans; Do Not Hate Our Freedoms, But They Do Hate, Very Much, Unfair U.S. Government Policies, Including Having Our Troops Marching On Their Sacred Land – Be It U.S. Troops or Soviet Troops!
    To: General David Petraeus & Congress:
    It’s Not Tough! It’s Mission Impossible!
    (Simple Fact #3 )
    There is NO Iraqi Government – There are only US Backed Shia Death Squads Fighting Sunni Iraqi Death Squads! There Can Be and Will Be No End To The Civil War(s) in Iraq Until All U.S. Troops Are Removed From Iraq Because the U.S. Military Presence Delegitimizes Any Outcome! To Come To an Understanding of How Wealth and Power in Iraq Will be Shared, The Political Forces There, Must Measure Their Relative Capacity and Will!
    U.S. Diplomacy YES! U.S. Military Intervention NO!
    Support Senate Resolution S 759 IS Senator James Webb
    PROHIBITS THE USE OF FUNDS FOR MILITARY OPERATIONS IN IRAN WITHOUT EXPRESS CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL
    Support House Joint Resolution 14 Congressman Walter Jones
    REQUIRING CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL PRIOR TO USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAN
    Support H.R. 413 Congressman Sam Farr
    LEGISLATION WHICH REPEALS THE IRAQ WAR RESOLUTION OF (2002) AND REQUIRES THE PRESIDENT TO START WITHDRAWING THE TROOPS!

  7. Sarah says:

    Here we come liberating people again. First we want them to put Israel into their constitution, then we talk of splitting their country into 3 parts. Now we want complete control over their oil too. And we can’t understand why their not grateful.

  8. Mary says:

    I hope the Iraqi people hold on tough. There will be a bloody battle if the “foriegn” (US/UK) oil companies take control of Iraqi oil. That is why Bush is trying to send in 35,000 more troops instead of withdrawing them. The money he is asking for will not go to the troops but the 125,000 private military (Blackwater/ Halliburton) to secure the oil over the next few months. The oil companies are worried about working in such a dangerous environment and will need far more boots on the ground in a population of 28 million to “free the Iraqis” (of their oil). So don’t think Bushy and Co. is planning on leaving anytime soon. As usual, this issue is woefully unreported by our inept mainstream media. They’ve failed to ask the tough questions in the run-up to the war and are still being cowed by the AIPAC Lobby and big business. There needs to be a sea change from the ground up to rid the world of this stink.

  9. James Richardson says:

    Now we come to the truth of the matter. The reason for our invasion of Iraq was not to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, nor to give the Iraqi people freedom and democracy. It was to seize control of Iraq’s oil fields and to allow the US to dominate the region with massive military bases.
    Bush and Cheney have been willing to sacrifice American youth to make their rich friends richer. Talk about an “axis of EVIL”. Nothing on the planet is more EVIL than President Bush and Vice President Cheney’s lies about the reason for this war.
    The only good thing that may come from this is to see the Republican Party stomped out of existence. Stomped on without mercy by an enraged American electorate. And another good thing may be the realization that Israel has played a very significant role in ginning up this war. Israel and its AIPAC and Neo-Con allies in our government will now be exposed for what they are and for what they have done. It is time to let Israel fight its own wars and fight for its own oil. Kiss the Mosul Haifa oil pipeline goodbye.
    If justice really prevailed Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and all the Neo-Cons who started this disaster would be arrested and handed over to an international war crimes tribunal to be put on trial for their lives. They have led America into a catastrophe with lies and deception to say nothing of what they have done to the Iraqi people. It will take many years for America and Iraq to recover from this disaster and they deserve punishment for what they have done.

  10. eugene craig says:

    No More blood for oil!
    Impeach Cheney, then Bush

    Intall
    Pelosi pres. withdraw all troops

    sterilize all republicans!

    find excellent alt/fuels…have peace

  11. 18 June 2007

    PRESS RELEASE
    For Immediate Use
    IRAQI OIL FOR THE IRAQIS, URGES MSP

    Bill Wilson, MSP for the West of Scotland region, today lodged two Parliamentary Motions concerning the Iraqi oil industry.

    Speaking after lodging them, Dr Wilson said that he was concerned that Iraqis working in the oil sector should not be pressured to forego their right to strike should they choose to exercise this legal means of objecting to the proposed Oil Law. This law, he said, amounted to the de facto sale of their country’s oil industry to multinational companies and he had been alarmed to hear that objecting workers had received death threats.

    He continued, “I await the UK and USA governments’ responses. By speaking against the proposed privatisation of Iraq’s oil industry they would demonstrate the truth of their oft-made assertions that the invasion of Iraq was not motivated primarily by greed and self-interest.

    “I believe that every country should have the right to use its natural resources for the benefit of its people. Iraq needs all the income it can get to rebuild itself after the devastation of the last few years. Iraq lost over a million people due to sanctions and suffered over half a million war casualties as a result of the invasion. It would be obscene if Iraqis were to have their oil stolen from them as well.

    “I would like to believe that the UK and USA governments will act honourably in this matter but, sadly, I confess that I have little real expectation of it.”

    FULL TEXT OF THE MOTIONS

    Date of Lodging: 18 June 2007
    Short Title: Iraq: Right to Strike
    S3M-00194 Bill Wilson (West of Scotland) (SNP): That the Parliament notes with grave concern the death threats against members of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) who were recently protesting against the proposed oil law which would effectively cede control of Iraq’s oilfields to multinational companies; further notes that the right to strike is protected by the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation, to which the Iraq Government is a signatory, and accordingly expresses its support for calls for the threat of violence against the oil workers to be withdrawn and for their legitimate right to strike to be recognised should they choose to exercise it.

    Short Title: Iraq: Privatisation of Oil
    S3M-00195 Bill Wilson (West of Scotland) (SNP): That the Parliament notes with concern proposals to pass laws allowing the privatisation of Iraq’s oil industry; notes that both the Blair and Bush administrations stated that their declared major purpose for invading Iraq was to remove weapons of mass destruction and that the invasion was not motivated by that country’s oil reserves; notes that both administrations have stated their support for the introduction of democracy in Iraq, and accordingly is confident that the UK and US administrations will demonstrate their good intentions by encouraging the Iraq Government not to privatise that country’s oil but to maintain it as a source of income to help Iraq’s reconstruction and recovery.

    -ends-

    Please address all correspondence to:

    Dr Bill Wilson MSP
    Scottish Parliament
    EH99 1SP

    Tel. 0131 3486805
    Fax. 0131 3486806

    e-mail:
    Bill.Wilson.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

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