Victory for Leather Industry Workers as Strikes Spread
January 2, 2010
After a 53-day strike (the longest in Iraq since 1931) won workers in the leather industry the release of long promised safety benefits and back wages, FWCUI-affiliated unions are at it again, this time organizing Baghdad cotton factory workers and announcing a strike for similar demands, now entering its 19th day. There is yet a another strike, this one in the industrial area of Nahrawan (east of Baghdad) at al-Thalal brick factory. This strike began on the 23rd of December. If these actions are any indication, organizing in the industrial sector is really catching fire in Iraq. In the face of such effective and uncompromising direct action, the Iraqi authorities –surprise, surprise—have stepped up their attempts to interfere, by “relocating” organizers to out of the way offices, or simply firing them. The most threatening of these attempts though, takes the form of planned union federation elections, which the FWCUI considers to be a sham meant only to confer legitimacy on the state-backed federation. This then may lead to the very Ba’athi move of banning of all ‘unrecognized’ unions.