Saddam's successors use Saddam's laws to close down trade unions
The news from Iraq this week has not been good. After weeks of popular protest against power cuts which led in some cases to deaths and injuries at the hands of the police, Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani was given the Electricity Ministry too, and on 21 July he issued an order to raid, seize property from and close down the offices of electricity unions, on the basis that Iraqi law still bans unions in the public sector – a law dating from the Saddam era, and still on the statute books.
Union leaders report that the police apologised as they carried out their orders. They knew what al-Shahristani doesn't. Free trade unions are the heart of free societies, often the first to be repressed when regimes turn dictatorial. Al-Shahristani even threatened people who resisted his decree with anti-terrorism laws, an outrageous slur when you consider that the electricity unions were the ones who defended their workplaces against the terrorists after Saddam was ousted.
When we heard from our Iraqi union colleagues that they were under attack, the TUC protested to the Iraqi government and asked the British government to intervene. We are mobilising support for around the world, and urging people to make their protest personally through LabourStart.
Iraq's people need freedom of association and freedom of expression – fundamental human rights – not nasty little dictators like Hussain Al-Shahristani.
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