Iraqi's protest about unpaid wages

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Sun Sep 21 13:17:26 MDT 2003

Saturday, September 20 2003 @ 08:03 AM Eastern Daylight Time

Unemployed Iraqis took to the streets in Baghdad to protest continuing wage
arrears. The 60-member group, who gathered before the headquarter of US
civil administration, demanded full payment of wage arrears. They carried a
banner denouncing unpaid wages amid anti-US slogans. The protesting group
demanded to be paid as state employees. "In Saddam-era nearly 12,000
employees were working in Republic Palace but now all of them are
unemployed," told Ibrahim Zobai, an agriculture employee who worked for
Republic Palace when Saddam was ruling the country. "Let's US find a
solution for our financial problem.," said another protestor Intisar


ICFTU general secretary Guy Ryder said: "There is serious cause for concern
about the way things are going at the moment. Our information is that labour
and human rights questions are not receiving the kind of balanced attention
they should be."

The organisation, which has a membership of around 158 million, is focusing
on three main areas - oil, ports and public services - although the oil
industry is its priority. Iraq, a member of the Opec cartel, is thought to
have some of the world's largest reserves of crude, and the coalition forces
are attempting to kick-start the industry.

When in the country, the ICFTU wants to visit the oil fields and talk to the
workers, coalition forces and the Iraqi authorities. In addition, it hopes
to play a part in advising the authorities on enshrining international
labour practices into law. It also wants to make sure workers are able to
have a say in the way Iraq's natural resources and assets are privatised. A
number of Western oil giants are keen to take part in the restructuring of

Iraq did have a trade union under the Saddam Hussein regime, the General
Federation of Trade Unions, but was state controlled so is not considered a
suitable organisation by the ICFTU. Workers in the public services sector,
however, were not permitted any representation.


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