Oil workers’ strike gets murky in Iraq

London, June 10:

International concern is mounting over threats by the Iraqi government toarrest union leaders following strikes by oil pipeline operators in the country last week.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Hassan Juma’a, president of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU), which represents the company’s oil workers, and three other senior officials, according to Naftana, a London-based group linked to the IFOU.

Striking oil workers have also been surrounded by troops at Sheiba in the south of the country.

The news has worried Western trades union organisations including the TUC in Britain and America’s AFL-CIO, which have both called for the Iraqi government to stop intimidating workers by using military force.

AFL-CIO president John Sweeney has written to US Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice, asking her to use diplomatic channels to stop the intimidation.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the British Trades Union Congress (TUC), said: ‘Military intervention is not the way to resolve industrial disputes.’ There is, however, uncertainty over whether warrants have already been issued for the arrest of Juma’a and his comrades. Some reports indicate the men have been threatened with warrants.