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ITF slams new Iraqi crackdown on unions
24 August 2005
The ITF has condemned a new decree in Iraq that crushes trade unions’ right to operate free of government interference or harassment.
The decree, passed on 7 August, revokes decisions taken on union rights by Iraq’s provisional government and permits the control and confiscation of trade union monies by the current authorities. It also states that the right to carry out union activities is to be reviewed.
In a letter dated 24 August, ITF General Secretary David Cockroft, told Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari: “We are concerned that control of Iraqi trade unions’ monies might lead to the weakening of the Iraqi unions’ capabilities,” and added: “This is considered a clear breach of the International Labour Organization (ILO) core labour standards on freedom of association and a direct attack on human rights in Iraq.”
He also called on the government to discuss any future review of trade union activities with the unions themselves and raised concerns that laws dating from 1987, forbidding union organisation in the public sector, remain in place.
Cockroft pledged to raise these issues with the ILO through the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
Commenting on the situation, Bilal Malkawi, ITF Arab World Offices said: “While the ITF, Global Union Federations, and many international trade union organisations are working intensively to support Iraqi workers, the government is taking this action instead of helping unions to face the challenges ahead. I am really shocked by these measures, but I know for sure that the Iraqi unions are in a strong enough position to keep moving forward.”
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