Electricity workers in Iraq have been paid their wages after threatening strike action, according to BBC reports. Around 6,000 electricity workers in Baghdad were the first to be paid at the end of May, while other government employees such as teachers and doctors have been told they will get their wages in June. They will be paid for out of Iraqi assets frozen in the US since the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
But other workers are not so lucky. The Boston Globe reports that workers in the state-owned Iraqi Airways are angry at the continued control of the main airport by the US military, and changes being imposed by the occupying forces. Workers are outraged by a notice from airline management and "US advisers to the Transport Ministry'', setting future wage rates and prohibiting the election of new managers. Workers are also annoyed because the airline's general manager, a cousin of Saddam Hussein and a senior Ba'th party official, has been kept on in his post.
"Solidarity" with Iraqi workers?
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the umbrella body for most global unions, has finally launched an appeal to organise Iraqi workers.
Exactly what kind of unions the ICFTU will be supporting is not clear. However, it says it wants the ILO, the World Bank, the IMF and the OECD's Trade Union Advisory Committee involved. These are all bosses' clubs that don't want militant trade unions. They are more likely to set up business-friendly unions with few democratic structures that will not represent the working class.
All the more reason to support the efforts of organisations like No Sweat to make solidarity and direct links with Iraqi workers.