From the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM), June 4:
At 6:30 AM this morning, 4 June 2007, oil workers struck the pipeline company in Basra, Iraq, bringing an immediate stop to the free flow of oil products, including kerosene and gas through pipe number 42.
The pipe transfers oil and gas to Baghdad and the governorates of the central region of the country. The workers are members of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU).
The IFOU, previously known as the GUOE-Basra, and led by President Hassan Jumaa Awad Alasady, has over 26,000 members throughout the ten state oil companies operating in the south of Iraq. The union has a past history of strike action in defense of its members, and the oil industry as a whole of southern Iraq.
The ICEM, the global union federation of national energy unions throughout the world, supports the IFOU in their strike action today.
Earlier strike calls in May were postponed after the union gained a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. That meeting, on 16 May, resulted in the creation of a committee tasked with working on finding solutions acceptable to both sides. The ICEM understands that although several of the union demands have been fully agreed to by Iraqi authorities, the IFOU is still far from having all their demands fulfilled. This is what led to today’s strike.
The union is currently focussing on two core demands in its strike at the pipeline company:
• They demand that the Oil Ministry take action to force the general manager of the pipeline company to resign; and
• They demand that the company be financially and administratively independent from the Baghdad-based central ministry, and that the pipeline company be managed locally.
ICEM is informed that the reason for the first demand, and the catalyst for today’s action, is that the general manger of the pipeline company, Adel Aziz, who is based in Baghdad rather than in Basra, blocked the orders of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Mailiki to release delayed benefits due workers. Moreover, he stopped a Iraqi Dinar (IQD)50,000 allowance which the workers are regularly entitled to.
See our last posts on Iraq, and the struggle for the oil, labor struggles and the civil resistance.