Alex Gordon, a member of the RMT rail union who visited Iraq in October 2003 and has been active in building support for the Iraqi unions, talked to Solidarity about the shouting-down of Subhi al Mashadani.
“…One must of course refute the lies put about by the SWP and George Galloway that the IFTU is a stooge organisation. That’s why they didn’t want Subhi al Mashadani to speak — because they would have refuted those lies by talking about disputes the IFTU is engaged in with employers, and problems it is having with the occupation authorities.
“The basis of my trade union’s support for the IFTU has been that we want to support the right of Iraqi workers to form their own organisation, to organise their own struggles, and to win their own freedom… the lies about the IFTU come from those who do not wish Iraqi workers to have an independent future, but would rather push the anti-war movement in this country towards supporting reactionary communalist and religious forces.”
Hashimia Hussein, president of the Electricity and Energy Workers’ Union, and the first woman ever to lead a trade union in Iraq, spoke later in the ESF.
“We did not want the war, but it took place. Now we are struggling in order to end the occupation — by insisting on the implementation of the United Nations resolution which requires free elections and the ending of the occupation.”
The union, she said, had won demands that contracts not be put out to foreign firms unless it could be proved that local labour was unable to do the job. The union had started producing a magazine for its members, but that had been shut down by the administration. Workers who had taken part in a protest against the shutdown had been harassed.