Iraqi Oil Workers Strike July 17—Oil Exports Shut Down
If the Iraqi government does not agree to the union’s demands, a general strike will ensue
by Ewa Jasiewicz
article, posted on the Internet July 17, has been edited for Labor Standard. For earlier articles
about the Iraqi oil workers union and its leaders, who recently toured the
15,000 Southern Oil Company (SOC)
workers from the General Union of Oil Employees (GUOE),
The strike is in support of demands
made by Basra Governor Mohammad al-Waili—reflective of the wishes of the vast
Despite being the capital of
The GUOE has been involved in an industrial dispute with the Southern Oil Company administration, the Ministry of Oil, and the Iraqi central government since June 20 when workers at the Basra Oil Refinery staged protest action and a lockout. The union is demanding the removal of high-ranking Baathist managers in the SOC and regime loyalists serving in the Ministry of Oil.
The GUOE has given the Ministry of
The GUOE is also calling for an increase in workers wages. According to Media and Culture Officer Faraj Rabat Mizbhan, the basic starting pay for an Iraqi soldier is 700,000 ID (£270) per month, while a senior oil worker with 30 years service is being paid on average 400,000 ID (£150). The union is also calling for land allowances for workers—currently a provision limited to high-ranking managers.
Union President Hassan Juma’a Awad
al-Assadi plus members of the union’s executive committee have been involved in
negotiations with the Ministry of Oil and the Iraqi central government over the
past month. The governor of
Negotiations between the Ministry of Oil, the government, and the union have resumed in order to avert a full general strike, which would involve a further 8,000 union members included in Amara and Nassiriyeh provinces.
Nonunion workers have also been known to join GUOE strike action in the past.
If the Iraqi government does not agree to the union’s demands, a general strike will ensue.
Currently, the southern oil sector
is providing the central and northern areas of
The GUOE held its first conference
on privatization this May, which ended with a resolution against the privatization
It also called upon “members of Parliament to take a firm stand against political currents and directives calling for the privatization of the public sector in Iraq” and called upon “all States to remit [cancel] the odious debts undertaken by the previous regime, without condition and without infringing the independence, sovereignty, and economic self-governance of Iraq” (Final Conference Communiqué, May 25, 2005).
For further information, click here.
Or call: Faraj Rabat Mizbhan, Responsible for Culture and Media, GUOE 00964 7801
393 137 (Arabic only)
Ewa Jasiewicz (0044) 07749 421 576 or Munir Chalabi (0044) 7952 683 415