Iraqi union demands jobs or cash for jobless

Submitted by Anon on 2 July, 2003 - 9:32

On Wednesday 25 June six British soldiers and 80 Iraqis were killed in during two ambushes south of Amara in southern Iraq. The press could not say who — Ba’ath Party militia or its Shia opponents — was involved. The US-UK “liberation” of Iraq has required a lot of heavy policing. It is now coming under fierce attack...

An unemployed workers’ group has been set up in Iraq. Here is their statement:

In the aftermath of the US devastating war on Iraq and on the following May Day, we, a group of activists in the labour movement, have founded the Union of the Unemployed in Iraq-UUI. Our decision to form this union was an essential response to the extraordinary circumstances in which Iraq has gone through.

Thirteen years of economic sanctions as well as the dominance of the Ba’ath regime have had its greatest impact on imposing the minimum standards of living, the most inhuman working conditions, and a large-scale unemployment on the masses of workers.

The Anglo-American war, which ended with the occupation of Iraq, has pushed further up the unemployment rates to dreadful levels. Most of the industrial and service facilities and institutions were rendered out of service and thousands of factories and smaller workshops have closed their doors either due to lack of water and electricity, or due to lack of security. Rumours are widely being spread around that the US is thinking of privatising the public sector. This clearly means an increase in unemployment among workers. Millions of workers are out of work with absolutely no means of earning a living, threatened with hunger while the food ration, distributed by the previous regime is rapidly running out.

We have formed our union to bring all unemployed workers together and to push forward their basic demands. The Union of the Unemployed in Iraq has currently around 15,000 members across the country, with centres in three major cities: Baghdad, Kirkuk and Nasiriya. Since founding our union we have organised weekly demonstrations to draw the attentions of the occupying forces to our status and conditions, but there has been no response to our demands so far. Our demands could be summarised: either Jobs or Unemployment Insurance. We also demand: emergency allowances to all unemployed and full payments to all those who lost their jobs because of war.

Since May 24th, 2003, we have been in continuous negotiations with the US Civil Administration, in vain. They are clearly postponing and manoeuvring.

Our union has decided to organise a big demonstration across Iraq on Thursday 3 July, 2003. We, therefore, entreat you to support us in our demands. You could express your solidarity with us either through organising protesting rallies or demonstrations or holding big protesting gatherings on the day of our demonstration, in front of those authorities that are responsible for our current situation i.e. the British and the American authorities. You could also send us letters of solidarity to our union and letters of protest to the US and British consulates and embassies in your countries.

We call on the workers of the US and Britain in particular to raise their voices against their governments which deny us our simplest demands.

Your solidarity with us will certainly reinforce the impact of our protests to compel the occupation forces in Iraq to submit to our demands.

Issam Shukri, International Relations Coordinator

  • Union of the Unemployed in Iraq (UUI), Bab Al-Sharki, Al Rasheed St., Old Labour Union Bldg. Baghdad, Iraq. Email:

Iraqi Women’s League

The Iraqi Women’s League has published an open appeal which they want women’s organisations in the UK to support. They demand such things as: “Food and safe water must urgently be provided. This should be given not to heads of household who are often men, but directly to each individual, including women, the primary carers. Priority must be given to breastfeeding mothers. Baby milk formula must not be provided in aid packages as it may result in the illness and death of babies due to polluted drinking water... The systematic harassment and assault on the civilian population by the occupying forces at military checkpoints, including the humiliating searches of Iraqi women by US and UK male soldiers must stop”.

A full copy can be got from: Iraqi Women’s League, 155 King’s Cross Road, WC1X 9BN. Tel: 0207 278 5629. Fax: 020 7833 3970. Email:

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