12 May 2007

Iraqi Oil Workers to Strike Over Privatisation Law

Iraq’s largest oil workers’ trade union will strike this Thursday, inprotest at the controversial oil law currently being considered by the Iraqi parliament. The move threatens to stop all exports from theoil-rich country.

The oil law proposes giving multinational companies the primary role in developing Iraq’s huge untapped oilfields, under contracts lasting up to 30 years. Oil production in Iraq, like in most of the Middle East, has been in the public sector since the 1970s.The Union, representing 26,000 oil workers, has held three previousstrikes since 2003, each time stopping exports, for up to two days at atime. The announcement of the strike has spurred negotiations with theMinistry of Oil, which are ongoing.

Imad Abdul-Hussain, Federation Deputy Chair of the IFOU said: "The central government must be in total ownership and complete control ofproduction and the export of oil". He warned against the controversial Production Sharing Agreements favoured by foreign companies, saying other forms of co-operation with foreign companies would be acceptable but not at the level of control and profiteering indicated in the current Oil Law. More on General Union of Oil Employees in Basra website