News and opinions on situation in the Middle East
04/12/03 Why a Campaign for Labor Rights in Iraq?
From: "US Labor Against War" <e_mcgrath@uslaboragainstwar.org>

Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003 13:25:21 -0500

Subject: [uslaw-assembly] Why a Campaign for Labor Rights in Iraq?

http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org/images/LaborRightsFactSheet.pdf

(PDF version has photos and border.)

Why a Campaign for Labor Rights in Iraq?

Since George W. Bush declared an end to the war in Iraq in April

· Unemployment among Iraqi workers has reached 70%. Hunger and dislocation affect a growing number of families.

· The US Occupying Authority has frozen Iraqi wages for most workers at $60/month, eliminating bonuses, profit sharing and subsidies for food and housing they had received. The already inadequate living standard for workers is getting worse, not better.

· Congress appropriated $87 billion for reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan (at the expense of public services and jobs in this country). None of those funds will go to raise Iraqi wages or provide benefits to unemployed Iraqi workers. Instead they will fatten the profits of Halliburton, Bechtel, and other big corporate backers of the Bush administration that got no-bid contracts in Iraq worth billions of U.S. tax dollars.

· The US Occupation Authority continues to enforce a 1987 law prohibiting unions and collective bargaining in the public sector and state enterprises where most Iraqis work. Why is the U.S. enforcing Saddam Hussein’s anti-labor decrees if it says it wants to bring democracy to the Iraqi people?

· The Occupation Authority issued a new decree allowing 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses. It announced it intends to sell off the factories, refineries, mines and other Iraqi state enterprises. But these enterprises belong to the Iraqi people, not to the US. Privatization of Iraqi workplaces would lead to massive layoffs at a time when unemployment in Iraq is already at crisis levels. Shouldn’t the Iraqi people decide what to do with their national assets and resources?

· The combined effect of these measures will be to deny workers a voice in what happens to public assets, to their jobs, incomes, standard of living, and the structure of Iraq’s economy hardly the "democracy" the U.S. promised when it invaded.

· The rights to organize and join a union of their choice, to collectively bargain and to prevent child labor are guaranteed to all workers by Conventions 87, 98 and 138 of the International Labor Organization. The U.S. is obligated to respect and enforce those conventions.

We in the U.S. know from bitter experience what it means to experience an erosion of labor rights. Corporations in this country have been attacking, undermining and trying to roll back our rights for years. These are some of the same corporations now operating in Iraq. Supporting labor rights for Iraqi workers is the right thing to do. It is also part of our struggle to secure those same rights for workers here in the United States.

U.S. LABOR AGAINST THE WAR, P.O. Box 153, 1718 M Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036

info@uslaboragainstwar.org

www.uslaboragainstwar.org

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