TUC blog: Debating Iraq

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 09/14/2005 - 21:29

This afternoon, Congress discussed international issues, including Venezuela and the Western Sahara. It also debated Iraq, kicking off with a motion from the Community and Youth Workers' Union. Doug Nichols gave a pretty standard anti-war speech, effective in outlining what is wrong with the war and occupation, denouncing suicide bombings, but otherwise avoiding the more difficult issues about Iraq. His resolution did much the same, condemning terrorism against civilians (implying, but not naming, the 'resistance').

NATFHE spoke for their amendment, which added an essential emphasis on solidarity with Iraqi unions, with practical proposals including visits, twinning, union education and training, financial and material support, and a strong role for women.

FBU added further text, calling for a campaign to cancel Iraq's debts run up by Saddam Hussein, supporting workers' rights, equality and 'religious tolerance' (not quite as good as 'secularism', but getting there), and rejecting privatisation.

The resolutions were all good, but not brilliant. And they were all passed unanimously. All week, I've blogged sarcastically about unanimous votes on uncontentious motions, but I'll stop short of taking the piss on this one. It is good to see that the trade union movement can unite in opposition to both the occupation and the resistance, supporting workers' and women's rights, and opposing privatisation. It's a crying shame that neither the Labour government nor much of the 'left' can manage it.

There should be a debate tomorrow morning on an excellent emergency motion from the CWU about trade unions and women's rights in the Iraqi constitution. Mind you, there has been a lot of headbanging all week to even get it on the agenda at all. Some TUC bigwigs thought that it wasn't an emergency because we should have been able to guess that women's rights would be crap in the Iraqi constitution! Bureaucrats, honestly.

UNISON hosted a fringe meeting this evening on Iraq union solidarity, the main speaker being the President of the IFTU. Attended by around 40 people, it was interesting and worthwhile. But whose idea was it for the liquid refreshments to be only wine? Dear me. I like a bit of a booze, but even I don't want to start a long night of it at 5.30 in the afternoon!