Iraqi oil union bank account frozen - Iraqi government attacks opponents of oil privatisation

We have just received this Press Release from Naftana, the UK Support Committee for the General Union of Oil Employees Iraq. It confirms that the Iraqi government has frozen the funds of the Iraqi Oil Workers' Union, the reason being the union’s opposition to privatisation.

We are reproducing this Press Release of Naftana as it speaks for itself. If anyone had any doubts about the kind of “democracy” US imperialism is imposing on the people of Iraq this short press release should help them remove those doubts. [Editor’s note]

We have just confirmed reports that the Iraqi regime has frozen all the bank accounts of the Iraqi Oil Workers' Union, both abroad and within Iraq.

Wave of anti-union activity by government

The Iraqi regime's decision comes in the wake of a series of anti-union measures, including the disbanding of the council of the lawyers' union, freezing the writers' union accounts and the September 2005 decree making all trade union activity illegal. For that anti-union act the regime used the pretext of promising the promulgation of a future law to 'regulate' trade union organisations and their activities.

This action follows in the footsteps of US administrator Paul Bremer. In 2004 Paul Bremer, the occupation's then pro-consul in Iraq, declared trade union activity in the state sector illegal. That decision re-enacted Saddam Hussein’s 1987 decree banning workers' unions in the state sector by declaring them to be 'civil servants' rather than 'workers'.

Hamstringing opponents of oil rip-off

Iraq's enormous oil wealth is being groomed for Production Sharing Agreements, which would transfer effective control over all aspects of oil policy, production and marketing to multination oil companies. The oil workers' union is one of the most effective opponents of this policy, organising an anti-privatisation conference last year and another one to come this year.

Naftana member Ewa Jasiewicz is prepared to deal with enquiries. You can call her on 07749 421576.

Notes for journalists

The GUOE organises over 23,000 oil and gas industry workers Naftana (Arabic: 'our oil') was set up by UK activists after contact with the GUOE. We are in regular contact with the leadership of the union. In August 2003 the union halted oil exports for two days as a protest over low wages

The GUOE is independent of any political party or union federation. GUOE executive committee members, including its President, were part of the opposition against Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, and many were imprisoned by the regime. The GUOE is opposed to the military occupation of Iraq and to the privatisation of the oil and industrial sectors of Iraq.

The GUOE is a successor to the Southern Oil Company Union (SOCU), set up immediately after the fall of the Saddam regime. In October 2003 union activists kicked US company KBR out of oil industry workplaces.

See the union's website for more details in both Arabic and English. Sign up to the Naftana email alerts system at

Tuesday, July 20th 2006