Iraq - Oil workers victimised over protest – leaders questioned (2010)

On 28 January, nearly 400 workers and employees of the Public Company for Petrochemical Industries held a peaceful demonstration to demand three months back pay and mandated allowances. The company director general reportedly asked for time to review the demands, but instead the protestors were surrounded by military and informed that the company refused to negotiate with them and that instead they should meet with the military.

The negotiators’ interview with the leader of the military operations was videotaped, but union leaders were promised that their demands would be met and the following day the sums owed to the workers were dispensed. However, the company then issued a letter to the Ministry of Industry and Minerals insisting on the punishment of nearly 40 workers considered instigators of the demonstration. On 2 February, four union leaders were interrogated. One union leader, Kareem Johi Sahan, was banished from the enterprise for six months and his pay grade was lowered. In May 2009, the company’s new state manager harassed and then filed police charges against Mohammed Zaki Ibrahim, the leader of the Petrochemical Workers’ Union of Basra. Zaki was charged by police with «illegal» trade union activity and labelled as a danger to the Iraqi national economy. The Minister of Oil, Hussien Al Shahristani, issued a memo on August 23 transferring four union leaders at the drilling company Southern Oil Company in retaliation for their union activities.

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