Monday, June 27, 2005

Statement from USLAW and Iraqi union leaders

Given the controversy, I figured it was worth posting this message I just got from USLAW....
I'll make comments on it later.

Joint Statement by Leaders of Iraq's Labor Movement and
U.S. Labor Against the War

June 26, 2005 Washington DC, USA

At the invitation of U.S. Labor Against the
War, a delegation of six Iraqi labor leaders
representing three of that country's major labor
organizations toured the United States between June 10
and June 26, 2005. They visited 25 cities, attended
45 events and 10 press conferences, met with thousands
of working people, union leaders, members of Congress
and other public officials, religious and community
leaders, and antiwar and other social justice
activists. They have given voice to the people of Iraq
whose voices have been largely unheard in this country.
They brought a story of courage, hope, struggle and
resistance on the part of Iraq's working people that
has been absent from the mainstream U.S. media. The
following statement was drafted and signed at the
conclusion of their visit. It represents the
consensus view of all the Iraqis and their U.S. hosts:

We, the representatives of the Iraqi Federation of
Trade Unions (IFTU), the Federation of Workers Councils
and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI), the General Union of Oil
Employees (GUOE), and U.S. Labor Against the War
(USLAW) issue this statement at the conclusion of an
historic 25-city tour by leaders of the three Iraqi
labor organizations in the United States. We speak in
the spirit of international solidarity and respect for
labor rights around the world.

We speak in the spirit of opposition to war and occupation
and for the right of self-determination of nations and peoples.

On behalf of the Iraqi labor movement, we met and spoke
directly to thousands of Americans, including workers,
union, religious and political leaders, anti-war
activists and ordinary citizens. All of us, both
Iraqi and American, were deeply heartened at the
solidarity expressed throughout the tour. We have seen
with our eyes and felt with our hearts that the people
of the United States do not want the war and occupation
of Iraq to continue. We are strengthened in our
understanding of the deep commitment of organized labor
and workers in Iraq to a unified democratic,
independent Iraq, with full equality between women and
men in terms of rights and duties, and based on full
respect for the human identity without discrimination
on any basis.

The tour was an expression of the following key

The principal obstacle to peace, stability, and the
reconstruction of Iraq is the occupation. The
occupation is the problem, not the solution. Iraqi
sovereignty and independence must be restored. The
occupation must end in all its forms, including
military bases and economic domination. The war was
fought for oil and regional domination, in violation of
international law, justified by lies and deception
without consultation with the Iraqi people. The
occupation has been a catastrophe for both our peoples.

In Iraq, it has destroyed homes and industry, national
institutions and infrastructure - water, sanitation,
electric power and health services. It has killed many
thousands, and left millions homeless and unemployed.
It has poisoned the people, their land and water with
the toxic residue of the war.

In the United States, more than 1700 working families
have suffered loss of loved ones and thousands more
have been wounded, disabled or psychologically scarred
in a war that serves no legitimate purpose. The cost
of the war has led to slashing of social programs and
public services. It has militarized our economy,
undermined our own liberties and eroded our democratic

We believe it is the best interest of both our peoples
for the war and occupation to end and for the Iraqi
people to determine for themselves their future and the
kind and extent of international aid and cooperation
that suits their needs and serves the interests of the
Iraqi people. We strongly and unambiguously condemn
terrorist attacks on civilians and targeting of trade
union and other civil society leaders for intimidation,
kidnapping, torture and assassination. The occupation
is fuel on the fire of terrorism.

The national wealth and resources of Iraq belong to the
Iraqi people. We are united in our opposition to the
imposition of privatization of the Iraqi economy by the
occupation, the IMF, the World Bank, foreign powers
and any force that takes away the right of the Iraqi
people to determine their own economic future.

We call on nations across the globe to help Iraqis
regain their economic capacity, including full
reparations from the US and British governments to
rebuild the war-ravaged country.

We call for the cancellation of Saddam's massive
foreign debt by the IMF and other international lenders
without any conditions imposed upon the people of Iraq
who suffered under the regime that was supported by
these loans. The foreign debt of Iraq is the debt of a
fallen dictatorship, not the debt incurred by the
Iraqi people.

Further, we call for the cancellation of reparations
imposed as a result of wars waged by Saddam Hussein's
regime, and call for the return of all Iraqi property
and antiquities taken during the war and occupation."

The bedrock of any democracy is a strong, free,
democratic labor movement. We are united in our
commitment to build strong, independent, democratic
unions and to fight to improve the wages, working and
living conditions of workers everywhere. We confront
the same economic and corporate interests that have
mounted a global assault on workers and labor rights.
We demand strong labor rights in Iraq at the same time
that we strive to reverse the erosion of labor rights
in the United States and elsewhere around the world
where they are threatened. We call for free and
independent labor unions in Iraq based on
internationally recognized ILO conventions guaranteeing
the right to organize free of all government
interference and including full equality for women
workers. We support the direct participation of labor
and workers' representatives in drafting the new labor
code, in determining government policies affecting
unions and workers' interests, and in drafting the new
constitution. We condemn the continued enforcement of
Saddam's decree number 150 issued in 1987 that
abolished union rights for workers in the extensive
Iraqi public sector and call for its immediate repeal.
We commit ourselves to strengthening the bonds of
solidarity and friendship between working people of our
two countries and to increase communication and
cooperation between our two labor movements. We look
forward to delegations of Iraqis and Americans visiting
each other's countries for mutual support, and to
strengthen international understanding and solidarity
in our common struggle for peace and establishment of
a democratic civil society that respects human rights
and freedom.

With the strength and solidarity of workers across the
US, in Iraq and internationally, we are confident that
we can build a just and democratic future for labor in
Iraq, the US, and around the world.

Signed: June 26, 2005

Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq Iraqi
Federation of Trade Unions General Union of Oil
Employees US Labor Against the War



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