Oil Unions in Iraq

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Following the fall of Saddam Hussein, unions formed since 2003 with the goal of blocking privatisation of infrastructure and raising concerns about new draft laws viewed as too friendly towards international oil companies (IOCs). However in 2010 oil unions were still technically illegal in Iraq, a legacy of the Hussein regime,[1] which banned them in 1987.[2]

The country's labour movement was described as "weakened" by the Global Policy Forum. Parliamentarian Nassir al-Esawi said unions had no special protections under Iraqi law and some in the labour movement accuse the Maliki government of trying to weaken them even further.[3]

In 2009 the Iraqi unions lobbied against Iraq's new oil contract signed with international oil companies BP and CNPC for the Rumaila oil field. The principal complaints were that the deal was brokered in the absence of new national energy legislation, stalled by a feud between Iraq's Arabs and Kurds, concerns that the terms of the contract would overcompensate companies, and the possibility deals would lead to greater unemployment in the sector.[4]

In March 2010 a strike and demonstration was held at the South Refineries Company headquarters near Basra, with workers calling for a greater percentage of the company's budget to go to employees, and for key members of the administration to be sacked. There was an ensuing crackdown by the Iraqi Army and the Oil Ministry transferred five unionist workers from the Basra refinery to the Baghdad office of the Iraqi Drilling Company in an effort to reign them in.[5]

Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions

The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) represents around 26,000 workers from 10 oil unions.[6] As of 2010 the organisation was headed by Hassan Juma. The General Secretary was Faleh Abood Umara.[7] In 2010 charges were brought against Juma and Abood Umara by the state-owned South Oil Company, accused them of "impeding the work" at oil developments in Basra and making threatening remarks towards foreign oil companies that could put the economy in danger.[8]

The IFOU was previously known as the General Union of Oil Employees (GUOE), the forerunner to which was the Southern Oil Company Union (SOCU), founded in May 2003 by worker activists from the South Oil Company. This and other unions from Amara, Basra and Nassiriyah provinces, then merged to form the GUOE.[9]

References

  1. "Union leaders taken to court for oil sector dissent" Iraq Oil Report, 2 July 2010.
  2. "Iraq’s Weakened Unions Fight Foreign Oil Firms" Global Policy Forum, 13 July 2009.
  3. "Iraq’s Weakened Unions Fight Foreign Oil Firms" Global Policy Forum, 13 July 2009.
  4. "Iraq’s Weakened Unions Fight Foreign Oil Firms" Global Policy Forum, 13 July 2009.
  5. "Union leaders taken to court for oil sector dissent" Iraq Oil Report, 2 July 2010.
  6. "Letter to the American Labor Movement from the IFOU" Solidarity Center.
  7. "Union leaders taken to court for oil sector dissent" Iraq Oil Report, 2 July 2010.
  8. "Union leaders taken to court for oil sector dissent" Iraq Oil Report, 2 July 2010.
  9. "Support Iraqi Oil Workers" Iraqi Occupation Focus, retrieved 30 November 2011.