Iraqi oil workers appeal to Exxon shareholders

A statement from Hassan Juma’a Awad, president of Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, via US Labor Against the War (USLAW), May 28:

Statement by Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions
to 2008 Chevron and ExxonMobil Shareholder meetings

On May 28, 2008, Chevron and ExxonMobil Corporations will each conduct their annual shareholder meetings. Chevron will convene its meeting at its world headquarters in San Ramon, CA. ExxonMobil will conduct its meeting in Dallas, Texas. Antiwar, environmental and other social justice organizations will conduct protests at each event.

The following statement from the Federation of Oil Unions in Iraq to the shareholders of each corporation will be presented at press conferences conducted in conjunction with these protests. The statement was transmitted by Hassan Juma’a Awad, President of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, to U.S. Labor Against the War for presentation at these events.

To: The Shareholders of ExxonMobil and Chevron Corporations and All Peace Loving People of the World

From: Hassan Juma’a Awad, President, Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU)

We call upon the governments, corporations and other institutions behind the ongoing occupation of Iraq to respond to our demands for real democracy, true sovereignty and self-determination, free of all foreign interference.

Five years of invasion, war and occupation have brought nothing but death, destruction, misery and suffering to our people. In the name of our “liberation,” more than a million of our citizens have been killed or wounded, our nation’s schools, hospitals and other infrastructure have been destroyed, our neighbourhoods have been bombed, our homes have been broken into, our children have been traumatized, many of our family members and neighbours have been assaulted and arrested, our national treasures have been looted, and nearly twenty percent of our people have been turned into refugees.

The continued occupation fuels the violence in Iraq rather than alleviating it. The occupation has helped to foment and then exploit sectarian divisions and terror attacks where there had been none.

The Ba’athist legislation of 1987, which banned trade unions in the public sector and public enterprises (80% of all workers), is still in effect and continues to be enforced against us. Our union offices have been raided. Union property has been seized and destroyed. Our bank accounts have been frozen. Our leaders have been beaten, arrested, abducted and assassinated. Our rights as workers are routinely violated. This is an attack on our rights and the basic precepts of a democratic society. It is a grim reminder of the shadow of dictatorship still stalking our country.

We call upon you and all the world’s peace-loving peoples to help us to end the nightmare of occupation and restore our sovereignty and national independence so that we can chart our own course to the future.

1. We demand an immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from our country, and utterly reject the agreement being negotiated with the USA for long-term bases and a military presence. Iraq must be returned to full sovereignty.

2. We demand the passage of a labour law promised by our Constitution, that adheres to ILO principles to protect the rights of workers to organize, bargain and strike, independent of state control and interference and on which Iraqi trade unionists have been fully consulted.

3. We demand an end to meddling in our sovereign economic affairs by the International Monetary Fund, the USA and UK, and multinational energy corporations, and recognition that no major economic decisions concerning our services and resources can be made while foreign troops occupy our country.

4. We demand that the US government, oil companies and others immediately cease lobbying for the oil law which would fracture the country and hand control over our oil to multinational companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron. We demand that all oil companies be prevented from entering into any long-term agreement concerning oil while Iraq remains occupied. The Iraqi government must tear up the current draft of the oil law, and begin to develop a legitimate oil policy based on full and genuine consultation with the Iraqi people. Only after all occupation forces are gone should a long term plan for the development of our oil resources be adopted.

We seek your support and solidarity to help us end the military and economic occupation of our country.

We look forward to the day when we have a world based on co-operation and solidarity. We look forward to a world free from war, sectarianism, competition and exploitation.

May 28, 2008

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