the Disillusioned kid: Three Strikes And Your Out?
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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Three Strikes And Your Out?

With so much of the focus of coverage on Iraq on attacks by insurgents (although in truth only a fraction of these are ever reported on in the west) and the actions of the occupying forces a huge amount of what's going on in Iraq is unknown to most of us. Did you know for instance that there has been a wave of strikes across the country by the incipient trade union movement? I didn't think so. This is potentially important, not only because much of it is directed against attempts to privatise Iraqi utilities for the benefit of western corporations, but because trade unions could play an important role in building a genuinely free and democratic Iraq.

As I've suggested before, this is not to say that we should support Iraqi unions unquestioningly. Some members of the leadership, notably that of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU, not to be confused with the GFTU nor for that matter the GIFTU), have thrown their hat in with the occupation, often contrary to the wishes of their members. IFTU foreign representative Abdullah Musin, for instance, was instrumental in ensuring that a motion demanding the immediate withdrawl of British troops was defeated at last year's Labour Party conference. The unfortunately ambiguous response of the Stop the War Coalition (the largely self-appointed representatives of the anti-war movement) to this and the murder of IFTU member Hadi Salih has allowed some (most prominently Labour Friends of Iraq) to use working-class solidarity as a stick with which to beat the anti-occupation movement.

Despite all of this I am convinced that solidarity with Iraqi workers (not to mention other groups within "civil society" such as those campaigning for women's rights) is important for anybody concerned about the country's plight. Like so many of the things I consider important (see also vision, Europe, domestic politics) I have not given it nearly as much attention here as it deserves.

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