No Sweat are organising solidarity with the re-emerging labour movement in Iraq. Who will fight for democratic rights and decent living conditions in Iraq? The best hope is the re-emerging labour movement. For 35 years the Ba'thist dictatorship crushed all independent politics and trade-union organisation. Now independent trade unions have been formed, distinct from Saddam's old state-controlled General Federation of Trade Unions.
The Union of the Unemployed in Iraq campaigns for jobs or unemployment benefit of $100 a month for Iraq's huge numbers of jobless.
Organisation and activism can make a difference. Iraqi unions have won wage rises in some sectors, or the replacement of old Ba'thist managers, or some recognition from the occupation authorities.
Protests forced the US occupation authorities to drop the Governing Council's plans to introduce Sharia law. The US has been forced to slow down its plans for privatisation. But the US occupation authorities are keeping on Saddam's 1987 labour law, which bans unionisation and collective bargaining in the public sector.
No Sweat are campaigning for demands such as the following, raised by the Union of the Unemployed of Iraq:
- Freedom of worker organisation
- Freedom to strike; a right of access to the media for strikes
- A ban on strike-breaking
- A minimum wage
- Equal pay for women
- Unemployment benefit for the jobless
- Safe and healthy workplaces.
In its fight for freedom, democracy, and workers' rights, the re-emerging labour movement urgently needs our support. It faces attacks from the US/UK occupation forces and from right-wing forces inside Iraq. Its enemies have strong support from outside Iraq. It is down to us to ensure that the Iraqi labour movement has outside support, too.
What you can do:
- Invite a No Sweat speaker on the Iraqi labour movement to your antiwar group, student society, or trade union branch,
- Send a message of support. Union of the Unemployed in Iraq: firstname.lastname@example.org, with copies to email@example.com and the UUI British rep at firstname.lastname@example.org. Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions: email@example.com. Seek to establish direct links between your trade union or student union and similar organisations in Iraq.
- Check out information at http://www.uuiraq.org and at http://www.iraqitradeunions.org.
- Send a donation. (UUI bank account in Britain: no,11610268 at Lloyds TSB, 30-94-51).
- Run stalls and stunts to inform students and the public about the realities of the US/UK occupation regime in Iraq and the existence of a labour movement in opposition to it
- Protest at your MP's surgery, and ask him or her to raise these issues in Parliament.
PO Box 36707, London, SW9 8YA