From the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq, December 2009.
After one of the longest strikes in the history of the Iraqi workers' movement, the workers in leather production achieved a historic victory when the administration agreed to pay safety benefits.
The strength and endurance of the strike which lasted over fifty days, was in the unity and determination of the workers, and their singular focus on their demands and organizing. The organizers showed an ability to lead the strike and maintain the determination among the ranks of the workers for more than seven weeks.
The lack of response among the organizers and the rank-and-file to the promises made by the administration, and their insistence on making their demands a reality, was a result of valuable experience gained by the workers over the course of long negotiations, and hearing the promises and the dragging of feet by the administration, which would often conclude with non-binding talk about the future.
This was a triumph and an eloquent lesson for us workers, which we will be sure to learn from. That lesson is not to respond to any kind of promises which intend to slow or extinguish the movement of workers. The victory of the workers in the leather industries is the beginning of a new drive for the worker's movement in the public sector and all sectors.
The workers in the Ministry of Industry organized several demonstrations, marches and gatherings to call for what they were owed. The last of which was the heroic demonstration that faced the Iraqi security forces, who opened fire on the cornered protesters on October 6th, 2009. After which the state did not offer anything but unkept promises.
Let the victory of the workers in the leather industry push for the building of a broad- based movement towards realizing the workers' demands in the entire Ministry of Industry for back pay and safety benefits. Now the workers in the leather industry have just achieved another important achievement as part of a heroic movement, which is organizing their labor unions and groups autonomously without the interference of the administration or state officials.
Let us work for the freedom to organize and the repeal the laws of Saddam's regime that does not allow for the right to organize in the public sector.
Long live the workers' demands for safety benefits!
Long live the workers' demands for the right to organize!
The Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq