The trade union movement in Iraq is growing by the day, despite the threats to the lives of union activists, according to British unionists training Iraqi reps.
Unison staff have just returned from Jordan and the first session in a one-year programme of training for Iraqi unionists, in the day-to-day skills required of union reps.
Twenty Iraqi unionists were on the course – 10 from the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) and 10 from the Iraqi Teachers Union.
Because of the threat to trade unionists from insurgents, fundamentalists and even American forces, the Unison course was held in the city of Amman in Jordan.
“It was brilliant, a real success,” said international officer Nick Crook. “The dedication of these people is incredible. Actually, it’s quite humbling.”
The risks for anyone trying to organise or join a union in post-Saddam Iraq are very real. In January, the international secretary of the IFTU was brutally tortured in his family home in Baghdad, before being shot.
Since then there have been attacks on numerous trade union members, including a number of train drivers.