On March 13-14, the Iraqi labor movement will take a huge step forward by convening the First International Labor Conference in Erbil, Iraq.
The conference will bring together hundreds of labor leaders from across Iraq with solidarity delegations from the U.S., Australia, Japan, Europe, the UK, Nigeria, South Africa, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
This is an important step to strengthen and unify the labor movement in Iraq.
♦ The conference will press the demand that the Iraqi government stop enforcing Saddam Hussein's antiunion laws and enact a basic labor law to protect workers' rights to organize, bargain, and strike when necessary, in the unions of their choice - free of government harassment and interference.
♦ The conference will help the Iraqi labor movement to defend against privatization and foreign control of Iraq's oil and other publicly owned resources and enterprises.
♦ And the conference will make clear that Iraq can never be a fully sovereign nation while it is occupied by foreign troops and mercenaries.
This conference comes at a moment when the Iraqi government and other reactionary forces are escalating their attacks on the workers' movement. Within just the last week, two Iraqi labor leaders - from the teachers' union and agricultural union - have been arrested. The bank accounts of Iraqi unions continue to be frozen. The government continues to ban all unions from public sector worksites and public enterprises.
The U.S. delegation, led by USLAW, and will include leaders from the oil workers union (USW), a major higher education faculty union (AFT), a central labor council, and two members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. They will make a full report upon their return.
It will cost $150,000 to put on this conference - an amount beyond the means of the Iraqi labor movement.
Iraqi unions have called upon unions and union members around the world to support this conference.
Please make a donation in whatever amount you can afford. Get others to do likewise.
[Donations will also be accepted after the conference dates.]
Ask your union, regional labor bodies and labor councils to contribute generously to enable our sisters and brothers in Iraq to take this important step.
Our expressions of solidarity with workers in Iraq in the past have provided a lifeline of hope. Our support for this conference will buoy and strengthen the Iraqi labor movement. This is a very concrete action each of us can take to express our solidarity with the people and labor movement of Iraq.
Thank you in advance for your generous expression of solidarity.