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Tue Jun 19 2007 Iraqi trade union leaders visit Bay Area
Two Iraqi trade union leaders on a speaking tour of the United States are calling for a rejection of the new oil law being considered in the Iraqi parliament. The law was secretly written in Houston in favor of the U.S. oil companies long before it was ever seen by any member of the Iraqi parliament. If passed, the new oil law would effectively turn over all new oil fields to the control of foreign oil companies.

Faleh Abood Umara, General Secretary of the Southern Oil Company Union (affiliated with the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions) worked for the Southern Oil Company in Basra for 28 years. Umara was detained by Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1998 for union activities. In the post-Saddam years he has worked on his union’s negotiating team with both the Oil Ministry and British occupation authorities, defending the rights of oil company workers. His colleague Hashmeya Mushin Hussein, President of the Electrical Utility Workers Union, is the first woman to head a national union in Iraq. The Electrical Utility Workers are affiliated with the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW).

When asked what will happen if U.S. troops withdraw, Umara replied. Wherever U.S. forces are, the killing and carnage is more. Where they are not present, there is no suicide bombing. Both leaders clearly indicated that the U.S. occupation itself creates sectarian violence and reduces security.

On Sunday, June 10th, the two Iraqi trade union leaders from Basra spoke before an enthusiastic audience of approximately 125 people in the Laborers Hall in San Jose. On Tuesday June 12th, they spoke in San Francisco at an event co-sponsored by USLAW, United for Peace and Justice and the American Friends Service Committee. Organized by U.S. Labor Against the War, the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, Laborers Local 270, South Bay Mobilization, and a score of other labor and peace organizations, the programs were part of a national speaking tour to help raise awareness about the conditions facing Iraqi workers.

photo Photos: 1 | 2 | Iraqi Unions Speak Out Against U.S. Occupation | On U.S. tour, Iraqi unionists reject oil grab | Voices of Iraqi Workers- Solidarity Tour | Iraqi Union Leaders Speak Out in Santa Cruz

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