Leaders of Iraq’s labour movement have criticised government plans to “hand control” over the country’s oil production to multinational companies.
At a meeting in Amman, Jordan, late last week, leaders of Iraq’s five trade union federations called for a fundamental rethink of the forthcoming oil law, which is designed to allow foreign investment in the oil sector.
The law has been prepared by an Iraqi cabinet committee, and is expected to be presented to the Iraqi parliament for ratification in the coming weeks. The opposition by Iraq’s powerful trade unions – who represent thousands of people – will dismay the US government, which is keen to see the law in place by the end of the year.
Since the summer, US officials have been calling for an oil law to encourage foreign investment in Iraq’s oil – a call reiterated by the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group in its report last week.
The labour leaders criticised the major role for foreign companies in the draft law, which specifies that up to two thirds of Iraq’s known reserves would be developed by multinationals, under contracts lasting for 15 to 20 years.
In a joint statement, the trade unions rejected “the handing of control over oil to foreign companies, whose aim is to make big profits at the expense of the Iraqi people, and to rob the national wealth, according to long-term, unfair contracts, that undermine the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the Iraqi people”.
The statement added that this was a “red line” they would not allow to be crossed.