Iraqi unions need a fair labour code, not flawed elections says TUC

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Iraqi unions need a fair labour code, not flawed elections says TUC

The Iraqi Government is demanding that trade unions hold elections under a deeply flawed Saddam-era law. TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, today wrote to Foreign Secretary David Miliband asking him to press the Government of Iraqi to drop this demand and instead put in place an ILO-compliant labour code that allows all workers the right to form, join - and have a say in the running of - trade unions.

19 October 2009

Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State

Dear David,

Iraqi trade union elections will breach ILO Conventions

The TUC has just learned that the Iraqi Government is again attempting to force trade unions in Iraq to hold elections under a deeply flawed 1987 Saddam-era law. Can you press the Iraqi government to instead implement an ILO-compliant labour code that allows all workers the right to form, join - and have a say in the running of - trade unions?

The current rules create enormous problems. Firstly, public sector workers are not officially allowed to join trade unions. Secondly, only one federation, the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW), is formally recognised. Finally, the authorities in Iraq continue to use a controversial decree (Order 8750 of 2005) which froze all trade union assets and financial accounts, making it almost impossible for unions to function effectively.

Holding elections in this environment is not only in breach of core ILO Conventions. It will sew divisions in the Iraqi trade union movement, and very possibly, invite significant political interference in the process. Ultimately, it will prevent trade unions from fulfilling the essential contribution they have to building a peaceful and prosperous Iraq.

The Iraqi trade union movement is about to launch a national campaign calling on their government and parliament to implement a fair and just labour code that gives all workers - public and private sector - the chance to join trade unions and have a say in how they are run. Holding elections once this fair law is in place makes much more sense.

Can you use all avenues to press the Government of Iraq to drop its demand for flawed elections and instead put in place the ILO-complaint labour law called for?

Yours sincerely

BRENDAN BARBER

General Secretary

Briefing
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