Friday, July 22, 2005

Basra Strikes: The Iraqi Oil Workers Union

/ oil / workers / resist /
"15,000 Southern Oil Company workers from the General Union of Oil Employees - Iraq's largest independent union - began a 24-hour strike today, cutting most oil exports from the south of Iraq.

The strike is in support of demands made by Basra Governor Mohammad al-Waili - reflective of the wishes of the vast majority of Basra's residents - for a higher percentage of Southern oil revenue to be ploughed back into Basra's local economy. Basra's sewage system, electricity grid and medical services are still damaged and running at limited capacity. Despite being the capital of Iraq's oil reserves, the governorate is still struggling with entrenched poverty, malnutrition and an unemployment rate of 40%"

The Basra Oil Workers are striking demanding an end to the plunder brought by the occupation regime and its collaborators. They have been on the record opposing the US occupation and requesting immediate withdrawal of occpation troops:

...We lived through dark days under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. When the regime fell, people wanted a new life: a life without shackles and terror; a life where we could rebuild our country and enjoy its natural wealth. Instead, our communities have been attacked with chemicals and cluster bombs, and our people tortured, raped and killed in our homes.

Saddam's secret police used to creep over the roofs into our homes at night; occupation troops now break down our doors in broad daylight. The media do not show even a fraction of the devastation that has engulfed Iraq. Journalists who dare to report the truth of what is happening have been kidnapped by terrorists. This serves the agenda of the occupation, which aims to eliminate witnesses to its crimes.

Workers in Iraq's southern oilfields began organising soon after British occupying forces invaded Basra. We founded our union, the Southern Oil Company Union, just 11 days after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. When the occupation troops stood back and allowed Basra's hospitals, universities and public services to be burned and looted, while they defended only the oil ministry and oilfields, we knew we were dealing with a brutal force prepared to impose its will without regard for human suffering. From the beginning, we were left in no doubt that the US and its allies had come to take control of our oil resources...

Their communiqués and opinions can be found listed in the Basra Oil Workers weblog.

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