The battle over Iraq’s controversial oil law is heating up. The country’s Oil Ministry has directed all its agencies and departments not to deal with the country’s oil unions, who are leading the battle against the law.

The unions went on strike in early June and are threatening to stop production and exports again if demands are not met.

The unions claim the oil law, if approved by Parliament, will give foreign oil companies too much access to the oil. The unions enjoy enormous support, especially in the south of Iraq.

“The Minister has directed the prohibition of cooperation with any member of any union in any of the committees organized under the name of the Union as these unions do not enjoy any legal status to work inside the government sector,” Laith Abd Al Hussein AL Shahir, the ministry’s general director, has written.

“In no way is it permitted for them to use the offices, instruments or equipment of the companies as they do not enjoy any legal status to work in the public sector,” the letter stated, giving recipients two weeks to implement the directive.

The unions are calling for Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani to resign or be fired.