Iraq - Iraq bans unions in the electricity sector (2011)

On 21 July 2010 police officers stormed offices of the Electricity Workers’ Union across Iraq, carrying out an order from the Ministry of Electricity to shut them down. The Ministerial order, issued on 20 July 2010, reportedly “prohibits all trade union activities at the Ministry and its departments and sites”. It orders the police, “to close all trade union offices and bases and to take control of the union’s assets, properties and documents, furniture and computers”. It also instructs the Ministry to take legal action against trade union officials under the 2005 Terrorism Act. The order emphasises and echoes the continuing use of the Saddam-era law banning trade unions from the public sector.

Despite billions spent on contracts to rebuild power plants, Basra residents only got power for a few hours a day, which led to demonstrations in June. The protests were supported by the Electricity Worker’s Union - the first national union led by a woman, Hashmeya Muhsin - but were violently put down by police, killing one protester and injuring several others. The Ministry then issued an order to shut the union down, and as a result some 1,000 local residents protested, leading to further retaliation from the authorities and the raids on the union offices.

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