Friday, May 11, 2007


Iraq's oil workers threaten to strike on Monday

(UPI) - Iraq's government will respond to oil workers who have delayed a strike that could take 1.6 million barrels per day from the market. In a news release Tuesday, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions said it would stop work Thursday in opposition of the proposed hydrocarbons law, as well as other worker conditions.
Michael Eisenscher, national coordinator of U.S. Labor Against the War, said the workers postponed the strike until Monday "because they had a conversation with somebody at the Oil Ministry who said they wanted to respond to workers demands and needed time to prepare a response." USLAW is a coalition of labor unions in regular communication with Iraqi workers, including organizing a tour of the United States for Iraqi labor leaders in June.
The IFOU boasts more than 26,000 members, mostly in the southern region where most of Iraq's 2 million bpd are produced and all of the 1.6 million bpd are exported. The vast majority of that goes through the port of Basra. "If the port were to close down, that's one way of bottling it up," Eisenscher said, as well as utilizing "critical workers in the pipeline area or refineries."
The unions have struck before, successfully fighting wage decreases and privatization. "It's an issue of such import to them that I can't imagine they wouldn't have tremendous support for workers," Eisenscher said. The unions oppose language that they deem offers too much of Iraq's 115 billion barrels of proven reserves to foreign companies.
"Since we are working to make progress in production, we need a real participation in all the laws that are related to the oil policy," IFOU President Hassan Jumaa Awad told United Press International in March. "We are the sons of this sector, and we have the management and technical capability and we have the knowledge on all the oil fields."

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