Hands off Iraqi teacher unions!

The Iraqi Government and Iraqi political parties are interfering in the free and independent Iraqi Teachers Union (ITU). Ibrahim al-Battat, the leader of the ITU in Basra, has been arrested and an arrest warrant for Jasim Hussein Mohammed, the national leader of the ITU, has been issued. Jasim, Abu Muhammad, was jailed by Saddam Hussein and will not be intimidated by threats of being jailed again! In a message to the TUC, he said “We are witnessing the dispossession of the union by the government and parties.”

The Iraqi Government and the main political parties (ISCI, Al Dawa, Al Sadr Movement and the Iraqi Islamic Party) stand accused of trying to manipulate the ITU ahead of the General Election to try to win the support of Iraqi teachers. The leadership of the Iraqi Teachers Union have refused to do what the political parties want, and have refused to hand over the union or its membership lists.

Trade unions must be free of political and state interference. Freedom of association is a fundamental human right as set out in the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation, and that implies no outside interference in the internal democracy of the union. The Iraqi Constitution also guarantees the freedom of trade unions.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has issued a message of solidarity to the leaders of the ITU.

Owen Tudor

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