May Day in Iraq
Report from Baghdad and Basra
1 May 2009
Iraqi trade unions once famously celebrated May Day in 1959, with a million people on the streets of Baghdad to celebrate the fall of the monarchy. This year, 50 years later, the celebrations were smaller, but the trade union movement and the Iraqi Communist Party are rebuilding.
Iraqi trade union movement international representative Abdullah Muhsin reports.
'About 2,000 workers marched through Basra towards the main office of the Governor of Basra where he joined the demo by delivering a speech saying that he would work hard for Basra and its people; that he would work with the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW) and its unions in Basra and encourage non-interference in the affairs of the unions; and that he would work to reduce unemployment.
'Then the head of Basra GFIW delivered a speech in which he strongly criticised the federal government. Key demands he called for were:
- abolishing Decree 150 of 1987 and Order 8750 of 2005
- the government of Iraq must honour its international obligations regarding workers' rights
- reduce unemployment
- no to child labour
- the government of Iraq must stop its interference in the affairs of the unions
- end corruption
'The demo was supported by the ICP in Basra and chanted the following: We march together to build strong representative democracy. Peace loving people of Iraq: unite and move together to rebuild and renew Iraq.'
Meanwhile in Baghdad, Salaam Saadi, international secretary of the Iraqi Communist Party, reports on an even bigger demonstration led by trade unions.
'Iraqi Communists, waving red banners, joined thousands of workers and trade unionists in celebrating International Workers' Day in central Baghdad on Friday.
The marchers started off from under Nasb al-Hurriya (Freedom Monument), the historic landmark, in Sahat Al-Tahrir (Liberation Square), moving towards Firdos Square and eventually ended at Andulus Square where a mass rally was held.
The rally, held in front of the headquarters of the Iraqi Communist Party, was addressed by the Secretary of its Central Committee, comrade Hamid Majeed Mousa.
Many democratic organisations joined the march and rally, with banners and slogans calling for working class and national unity, and for defending workers' rights and democratic freedoms.'
Issued: 2 May, 2009