On March 5, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM), the global union federation for oil workers, issued a call for “strong condemnation” by supporters of workers’ rights of US-led military raids on union offices in Baghdad on February 23 and 25. During the raids, targeting the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW), a member of the union’s security staff was arrested and office equipment was destroyed. On February 19, the Iraq Syndicate of Journalists was raided and computers and membership records were confiscated.
The ICEM statement says that it “is calling on trade unions worldwide to directly protest this unprovoked attack on a trade union federation that stands for nation building and bettering the living conditions inside Iraq.” The federation calls on “trade unions and others to write to Iraqi embassies in their home countries, as well as to send messages of solidarity to GFIW leaders that their efforts to build strong trade unions in Iraq will succeed and with it, fair and just reconstruction for all Iraqi people.”
Trade unions are asked to register a protest with the Iraqi embassy or consulate in their country by visiting . They are also strongly urged to write to GFIW leaders in Baghdad to tell them they protest these forceful and menacing acts…
“These attacks are a clear violation of fundamental human and trade union rights,” wrote ICEM general secretary Manfred Warda in a letter to Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al Maliki. “They are also a cynical attempt to not only harass the trade union movement of your country, but to limit their ability to communicate with both their members and their international contacts.
“This is appalling, particularly at the present time. Genuine and democratic trade unions are a cornerstone of democracy and at the same time are a force for reconciliation, peace and stability in a society.”
Robin Penn for Left Green Weekly, March 8