Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Statement of General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW) on May Day

The General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW)

Greets the Iraqi working class on May Day


The working class in various parts of the world, along with our Iraqi working class, is celebrating the 1st of May, International Workers' Day, as a day of solidarity and a symbol of struggle against exploitation and social and class oppression, and for their legitimate objectives, for democracy, human rights and social justice.
The Iraqi working class has grown and become an important patriotic force, and has been enriched with experiences based on more than eight decades of national and class struggle against colonialism and authoritarian rulers, and against exploitation and social injustice. It demonstrated its strength soon after its emergence, as manifested by strikes of workers in electricity, railways, ports, oil, textiles, cigarettes, industrial enterprises, etc.  The struggle of the Iraqi working class made an effective contribution to the success of the 14th July 1958 Revolution. The working class also defended its trade unions, their freedom to organize, consolidating trade union democracy and progressive legislations. It confronted the concepts of hegemony and coercive methods, as well as attempts to transform trade unions and labor organizations into a tool in the hands of the ruling authorities.
The struggle of the working class at present has acquired a national and class importance despite the harsh conditions, the widespread unemployment in their ranks, the stagnation of the economic cycle and production, the attempts to impose privatization on our national productive institutions, and the failure to provide public services.  Tens of thousands of workers are employed with contracts that do not provide any guarantees for their lives and future. A new Labor Law has not been enacted. The right to trade union organization in the public sector has been prevented by insisting on keeping the unjust decree No. 150 (1987) and the law of trade union organization No. 52 (1987). There has been blatant interference in the affairs of our trade union organization by conducting sham elections and trying to impose hegemony and domination over it through the decisions of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the ministerial committee overseeing the implementation of the Governing Council decree No. 3 (2004), and by not acknowledging the legitimate right of workers to establish their own independent, free and democratic organization.
The Iraqi working is aware through its rich experience that building a democratic and prosperous Iraq can only be achieved by the concerted efforts of workers and toilers of our people in consolidating the foundations of democracy, by building an independent democratic trade union movement that expresses the professional, economic and social interests of workers, and defends their democratic and trade union rights and freedoms. This movement would build trade union organization in the public sector, protect the national industry in the public, private, mixed and cooperative sectors, and reject the privatization of the public sector and public services. It calls for direct national exploitation of our oil wealth, for defending the rights and gains of working women in equality in all fields of work: political, social, economic and trade unionist. This independent democratic trade union movement will demand a radical solution to the problem of unemployment without further delay, and call for a speedy enactment of both the Labour Law and the Social Security Law in accordance with international labour standards. It will combat financial and administrative corruption, and demand the inclusion of the unemployed under the social security network, granting retired workers their rights, to ensure their future, and to end child labour and provide them with social protection. The movement will also tackle other economic, social and security issues which workers and the Iraqi people as a whole are suffering.
The General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW), while greeting the Iraqi working class and the toilers of our people on this historic occasion, calls upon them, of all political, ethnic and religious affiliations, to unite their energies and efforts to build a democratic Iraq free of violence and oppression, and to consolidate the values ​​of tolerance, dialogue and democracy. They are called upon to intensify their struggle for the freedom of association and trade union work, especially in the public sector, and to abolish the unjust decisions and decrees that are hostile to workers. Tutelage from any quarter, whether domestic or foreign, is rejected. Our working class must be able to participate in formulating the social, political and economic policies, to play an active role in the development of our country, and to struggle to resolve the problem of unemployment as soon as possible, to improve the working conditions and accelerate the economic cycle. In addition, acts of terror that are targeting our people must be condemned.
On May Day, we declare our full solidarity with the workers and people of Palestine in their just struggle to achieve their legitimate demands to establish their own independent national state. We condemn the continuation of the Zionist aggression on the Palestinian people and the continued Israeli occupation of Arab territories in Syria and Lebanon, and we call for putting an end to it on the basis of international legitimacy. On this occasion which is dear to our hearts, we extend our warmest congratulations to all the Arab and international working class, and salute the struggle of workers and their growing trade union movement in various parts of the world, to expand public and trade union freedoms, achieve social justice and strengthen international solidarity.
The Iraqi working class, with its glorious record of struggle, will remain at the forefront of the forces of our people struggling for a bright future. May Day is seen as an incentive for further work and struggle to achieve their legitimate objectives in a free and dignified life.
Glory to the 1st of May, the International Day of Solidarity for workers
Long live the Iraqi working class
Glory to the martyrs of the Iraqi working class and people

Executive Office
The General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW)
25 April 2013

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Battling crisis, Iraq’s communists remain optimistic

Battling crisis, Iraq’s communists remain optimistic


Ten years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, pretty much no one is optimistic about the prospects for democracy and a decent life for the people in that cradle of civilization. No one, that is, except for Iraq's communists. Amidst a society hobbled by corrupt power struggles and parasitic oil millionaires, the tenacious Iraqi Communist Party sees the seeds of positive social change emerging at the grassroots. "This is why we are optimistic," said Communist Party spokesman Salam Ali in an April 12 phone interview. "This is not a bleak situation."
The challenges are formidable.
Iraq's politics today are dominated by a group of well-financed self-serving power blocs. This is one legacy of the U.S. occupation, which from the start adopted policies that fanned religious sectarianism, shunned democratic and left groups, and instead anointed opportunistic self-styled leaders deemed cooperative with U.S. interests. While the country is safer now than a few years ago, continued violence - including almost weekly bomb attacks - is largely linked to power struggles among these dominant groups over influence and access to Iraq's enormous oil wealth. The violence has been intensifying in the lead-up to April 20 provincial elections, the first nationwide elections since the U.S. withdrawal in December 2011. These elections are seen as a dress rehearsal for national elections in 2014.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who heads a Shiite Islamic alliance, is pursuing "divisive politics - a heightened level of sectarian agitation - to divide his opponents, whether among his own Shiite allies or others, and to stir up his base" said Ali. Other major blocs, Sunni or Shia, are doing likewise.
Although oil revenues are booming, Iraq has over 25 percent unemployment - with the real rate being closer to 50 percent. Youth unemployment is rampant. Oil production actually produces relatively few jobs. But agriculture and non-oil industries account for no more than 4 percent of the gross national product. Except for oil, major national industries are at a standstill, operating at 20 percent of capacity, at best. Electricity is still irregular at best. Agriculture, in the former global "breadbasket," has huge potential, but most of Iraq's food is imported today. Iraq has become increasingly dependent on imports from Turkey and Iran, in particular.
But oil wealth and corruption has led to the emergence of a new parasitic class of millionaires who have no interest in rebuilding Iraq on a sound basis - not even a working market economy, Ali said. Instead their main concern is retaining their status.
"Sectarian politics is being used to divert attention from immediate problems," Ali said. "But it is pushing Iraq to the brink of war. It's a very dangerous situation."
The Maliki government has responded harshly to legitimate protests over lack of democracy and economic issues, and at the same time has moved very slowly, if at all, to address the real problems. This in turn has provided an opportunity for al-Qaeda-type groups and other ultra-reactionaries including Saddam Hussein supporters to mobilize and ramp up more extreme slogans and actions - even calling for taking up arms and setting up a Syria-type "Free Iraqi Army."
Iraqi commentator Seerwan Jafar has analyzed Iraq's homicide statistics and finds that the violence is confined to just half of Iraq's 18 provinces. The other half have homicide rates lower than Western countries including the U.S. Why? "Many of unsafe Iraq's provinces are former bases for extremist Sunni Muslim groups like al-Qaeda." Violence there "comes because of the clash between them and Iraq's federal government forces," he writes.
"[T]he perpetrators of extremist and violent acts are a mixture of religious radicals, both local and foreign, die-hard elements from the former regime headed by Saddam Hussein, former army officers, unemployed youth without prospects, random criminal elements that emerged in the post-2003 chaos and which have yet to be subdued and more generally, violent elements that are supported by Iraqi political groups to utilize violence to advance their own political agendas."
For the first time since some U.S. officials floated the idea several years ago, some in Iraq talk of dividing the country along sectarian lines - Sunni, Shiite and Kurd. So far, said Ali, the idea has not gained traction. But the crisis in Syria is growing increasingly sectarian, and could have a destabilizing impact on Iraq.
Hanaa Edwar, a prominent Iraqi women's advocate who heads the nongovernmental Iraqi Amal Association, said recently that women's status has suffered from "a fabricated sectarian hatred which started in 2006 and which has been imposed and boosted from the highest levels to divide and rule through violence and fear."
For example, she said, domestic violence crimes are on the rise and women not wearing the hijab - the Islamic veil - are being discriminated against.
"The lack of dialogue between the leading political parties, and the ever growing role of religion is choking our society," she said.
Yet there is considerable push-back against efforts to repress women, Ali noted, and the government has been forced to pay lip-service to women's rights. Other protests have compelled the government to retreat on a number of regressive measures. At Basra University, students are waging an ongoing campaign against a ban on graduation celebrations. Human rights organizations are active throughout the country. Unions are resisting government efforts at repression. A new Journalists Union was formed earlier this year. And a broad Iraqi Democratic Current coalition of left and liberal groups is organizing Iraqi people to oppose sectarian politics.
The Iraqi Communist Party's membership is growing. Last month it held a lively celebration of its 79th anniversary in a public park in Baghdad, attended by representatives of Iraq's president and leading political figures from Maliki's bloc and others. The party has gained recognition for holding mass forward-looking events like this, and is seen as a party of "clean hands" amidst the surrounding corruption.
This is why Iraq's Communists remain optimistic.

Photo: Supporters of the Iraqi Communist Party march in Baghdad, July 14, 2011. The demonstrators marked July 14, 1958 coup that toppled the Iraqi monarchy and brought to power left-leaning nationalist Abdul Karim Qassem. AP

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Iraqi Communist Party strongly condemns the criminal assassination of three civil activists in Fallujah

The Political Bureau of the Iraqi Communist Party strongly condemned the horrific murder of three civil society activists in Anbar province. It sent a condolence message to the families of the martyrs, Hikmet Tawfiq Al-Sa’ib, Talib Al-Isawi and Othman Khalil, which mourned the big loss of these activists of the Tammuz Organization for Social Development who were victims of a cowardly attack by armed terrorists in Fallujah on Sunday night, 31st March 2013. A fourth activist of the organisation, Mustapha Al-Kihly, was seriously wounded in the attack. The Tammuz Organization said in a statement that the martyred activists were well-known for their wide ranging humanitarian activities and for providing aid to Syrian refugees.
The “Civil Democrats Initiative”, of which Hikmet Al-Sa’ib was a member, called on the government and security forces to reveal the details of the crime and to punish the perpetrators. It said in a statement that the three martyrs represented a moderate voice expressing the civil and democratic aspirations of the people through their humanitarian and civil society work, “while the government, along with the dominant ruling forces, are oblivious to the current state of affairs caused by their fight over power and personal interests.”