ACT NOW! Defend Iraqi oil union leader

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Solidarity with Iraqi unions

Defend Jamal Abdul-Jabbar

30 May 2011

The TUC is supporting a Labour Start appeal to defend the President of the Kirkuk Oil and Gas Workers Union, Jamal Abdul-Jabbar who has been forcibly relocated by his employers. International union protests have prevented this sort of management harassment before.

The Northern Oil Company of Iraq has forcibly relocated the President of the Kirkuk Oil and Gas Workers Union, Jamal Abdul-Jabbar, to a remote location. Jamal recently led a major walk out in support of better rights for contract workers and for a better, safer working environment.

This forced relocation is a common tactic of oil sector employers in Iraq hoping to remove union activists from their positions in the union, and deter other workers from taking action, but global pressure from unions often prevents such management bullying, so we are appealing for urgent action - not least because the International Labour Conference is taking place in Geneva and the Iraqi Government, which controls the Northern Oil Company, will be particularly sensitive to further allegations of trade union repression.

Global Union Federation ICEM has condemned the decision by the Northern Oil Company, and TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has sent the following letter to the Charge d'affaires at the Iraqi Embassy in London.

Mr Abdulmuhaimen Al-Oraibi
Chargé d'Affaires
Embassy of the Republic of Iraq
3 Elvaston Place
London SW7 5QH

Dear Ambassador

Jamal Abdul-Jabbar, President of the Oil and Gas Workers Union in Kirkuk

On behalf of the TUC and our 6.2 million members, I would like to urge your government to rescind the decision by the management of the Northern Oil Company to relocate the President of the Oil and Gas Workers Union in Kirkuk, Jamal Abdul-Jabbar, to a remote location.

I understand that Jamal recently led a major walk out of Northern Oil Company employees in support of better rights for contract workers and for a better, safer working environment. I believe that Jabbar's forcible relocation is punishment for his actions, separating him from his family and preventing him from carrying out his union duties, and to scare his colleagues off trade unionism. This is certainly not the first time such tactics have been used by oil company management.

This action by the Northern Oil Company management is a direct contravention of the rights to freedom of association of workers in their employment, and as the Northern Oil Company is a nationalized industry controlled by your government it breaches your obligations under ILO Conventions 87 and 98. Like all other members of the ILO, the Iraqi Government is required to uphold these international obligations.

I urge you to ask your Government to instruct the management of the Northern Oil Company to rescind the decision to relocate Jamal Abdul-Jabbar forthwith, return him to his previous job, and desist from the intimidation and harassment of union members there.

Yours sincerely

BRENDAN BARBER

General Secretary

Briefing
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