Iraq unions call for international labor conference in Irbil

From the General Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq (GFWCUI), Dec. 13:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the global struggle for workers’ rights, peace and justice:

Plans are underway to hold an International Labor Conference in Iraq in February 13 & 14, 2009. We see this as an important and urgent step toward strengthening and unifying the labor movement in Iraq. Only through increased solidarity in Iraq, and with workers in the region and around the world can we hope to impact the fate not only of workers but of all Iraqis.

We call upon all unions and labor organizations around the world to support this conference morally and financially. Your expressions of solidarity with workers in Iraq in the past have given us a lifeline of hope. Your continued participation and support for this conference will buoy and strengthen the Iraqi labor movement. Only through unity can we hope to achieve democracy, freedom, security and prosperity.

Iraq’s labor movement is a force for unifying our nation. A strong labor movement is also essential to the future of any democracy in Iraq. Labor unions transcend the sectarian conflict unleashed by the U.S.-led occupation. The invasion and occupation turned Iraq into an arena for settling international accounts and a base for exporting terrorism to the world. Workers represent the majority of Iraqis who do not have any interest in the ongoing terrorist violence. When sectarian gangs have attempted to transfer their conflicts into the ranks of workers, they have been rejected.

Iraq’s labor unions are the glue that binds Iraqi people in the north, center and south. In some areas, the glue is strong, but in other areas of the country unions are isolated. Our goal with the August conference is to strengthen the ties between all worker organizations and focus on our common priorities. Those who feel isolated need to know that they have support from the international labor movement. Iraqi workers need your support if we are to speak in one voice to reclaim our sovereignty.

Five years of invasion, war and occupation have brought nothing but death, destruction, misery and suffering to our people. Millions of Iraqis, the majority of them workers, have been killed, wounded and displaced inside and outside of Iraq as a result of the U.S.-led occupation.

In the name of our “liberation,” the invaders have destroyed our nation’s infrastructure, bombed our neighbourhoods, broken into our homes, traumatized our children, assaulted and arrested many of our family members and neighbours, permitted the looting of our national treasures, and turned nearly twenty percent of our people into refugees.

The occupation is determined to impose its economic and political will on Iraqis. The occupiers came with designs on our national riches – our oil – and schemes to privatize our industries, utilities, ports and public services and to put Iraq’s national resources under the control of foreign corporations and international financial institutions.

• All decisions, decrees and resolutions of the dictatorship have been nullified or changed except the ones that concern the working class. In fact, the occupation has added more unjust conditions to complement those created by the former regime.

• In violation of every precept of internationally recognized labor rights, the occupation has banned trade unions in the public sector, privatized state-owned and run enterprises, intervened in workers’ affairs by proposing to recognize only one government-approved labor federation, and blocked any legislation that protects workers from poverty, disease and unjust employers. Our union offices have been raided. Union property has been seized and destroyed. Our bank accounts have been frozen.

• In the last five years workers have been the target of terrorist acts in their workplaces and homes. Our leaders have been beaten, arrested, abducted and assassinated. Our rights as workers are routinely violated.

Now the U.S. administration attempts to provoke and threaten war with Iran. We condemn these actions and will struggle to prevent another disastrous war on Iran where the victims will always be the workers, their families and loved ones.

We believe that the workers of Iraq can form a strong front for social justice and peace if supported by our brothers and sisters in the region and around the world.

Please help us take a stand against this disastrous situation that will have catastrophic implications for the workers of Iraq and threatens the peace and security of the entire world. We call on your support and ask for your presence at the conference.

We need your financial help to underwrite the high costs of this conference. We need to raise more than $150,000.

We want your participation. The conference will take place from February 13 & 14, 2009 in Iraq in the city of Erbil, a relatively stable area of Iraq in the north, in a secure location. Please let us know if your organization will send observers. Their safety can be assured.

In Solidarity,

General Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq



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