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June 26, 2005

UNISON welcomes Iraqi trade unionists

UNISON delegates at this year’s national conference gave a delegation of Iraqi trade unionists a standing ovation after hearing about the immense bravery they have shown in promoting union rights.

Hangaw Abdullah Khan from the Kurdish General Workers’ Union told delegates how the Saddam regime took all the power away from the trade unions to strengthen their position in power.

“The international rule has been important in helping us have our first free elections and to avoid more disasters we need a federally united parliament,” he said.

“We would like the British people to help restore stability in Iraqi Kurdistan and greater Iraq.”

Bahra Othman, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan General Workers’ Syndicate Union women’s section, said it has not been easy for trade unionists in Iraq with the country recovering from dictatorial rule.

“We are working hard to have relationships with different syndicates across the world as well as nationally,” she said.

Delegates then called for international aid for the reconstruction of Iraq to be provided unconditionally and for the early withdrawal of troops by no later than the end of this year.

They also committed to work with all legitimate, independent and democratic trade unions in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

UNISON deputy general secretary, Keith Sonnet, said that although conference recognises the rights of the Iraqi people to resist the occupation it cannot support the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and the murder of trade unionists.

“We condemn the continuing violence in Iraq and salute the courage of the Iraqi and Kurdish people,” he said.

He also pointed out that in the Iraqi election campaign most political parties campaigned on the basis that the occupation must end.

Carrie Murphy from Glasgow Health branch emphasised the importance of helping with reconstruction.

“We need a sensible approach to the rebuilding of Iraq,” she said. “It must be on Iraqi terms for the good of the Iraqi people so let us support the planned withdrawal of troops.”

Posted at June 26, 2005 11:34 AM