At the outset I would like to thank all media personnel who are trying to shed light on the hidden areas of what is happening in Iraq. There are many challenges that the important and vital oil sector faces. I think that the elected Iraqi government must take into consideration the presence of an explicit law which determines the oil policy in Iraq. This is Law No. 80 from the year 1961. It very clearly identifies oil investment areas in Iraq, how to support the national economy, and how monopolistic foreign companies should not control the oil. At present, we are in the beginning of the twenty-first century and Iraq does not have an oil law even though oil sector constitutes 75% of the Iraqi economy. Since the fall of the great idol and the coming of the occupation forces to Iraq and since the Governing Council, the transitional government, and the government of Dr. al-Ja’fari, until this current government, which was elected by the Iraqis and has been in effect for over four months, we have not seen any results from anyone. Specialists in oil policies have not presented any projects to increase Iraqi production. All that we hear is about investment and giving great opportunities to foreign companies to invest in Iraqi oil, as if investment would save Iraq from the dilemma which is a result of the reckless policy of the entombed regime.
What was not taken into consideration is the fact that there are national cadres qualified scientifically and technically who took over this sector. During the period between the arrival of the occupation forces in 2003 and this year, these “warriors” in the oil sector brought production up to 2.5 million barrels per day without any direct or indirect intervention in the production process by the monopolistic foreign companies. These Iraqi heroes want oil to be a blessing to the Iraqis and not retribution.
The question that is posed here is: Were these experts in oil policies asked to participate in drawing up the oil law? Which committee draws up these laws if there is no one who represents the largest oil company working in Iraq, bearing in mind that this company has experts in the oil sector? One of the strangest things that the successive governments in Iraq overlooked after 2003 is the presence of a law that regulates work in the oil fields at the borders of Iraq’s neighboring countries such as Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. These countries have complete control over common oil fields at the borders. Why hasn’t this been taken into consideration?
Therefore, officials who want to prepare laws related to Iraqi oil must involve specialists in oil policies as well as professional organizations such as unions. In this way, the law will be complete and not lacking anything.
Unions have not enjoyed their legitimate rights during the ousted regime or after the 2003 War. We can summarize the reasons as follows:
1 — Resolution No. 150 is still in effect. This resolution prevents unions from doing their work in the public sector, even although 70% of the labor force is in the public sector.
2 — There is no legal formula for the work of the unions. Union work was opposed and resisted after the fall of the previous regime. Any minister can abolish a union in his or her ministry. This happened in the Ministry of Transport where the union was abolished by the minister.
3 — There is no sufficient protection for union workers because professional work is not protected.
4 — There are political speculations and party interference in the work of unions. This has led to confusion in the work of unions and the adoption of narrow partisanship in professional work.
5 — Many officials looked forward to the disintegration of union work because of the presence of many unions. These officials felt that through plurality there is weakness; thus, they made decisions against union work.
We suggest the following measures to gain the rights of unions:
1 — Canceling resolution No. 150 issued by the dissolved regime.
2 — Unifying the union movement because there is power in unity.
3 — Preventing the union movement from being politicized or becoming a hostage in the hands of parties so that it will not be used for their party interests.
4 — Allowing unions to participate in decisions related to work and workers.
5 — Allowing unions to participate in the political decisions issued by the state which are related to investment and other issues.
6 — Allowing unions to participate in the boards of directors of the productive companies in order to draw up practical company policies and to be aware of issues related to companies.
7 — Allowing workers’ representatives to be involved in the provincial councils because they constitute the largest group.
Hassan Jum’a Awad al-Asadi is head of Iraqi Oil Unions in the South
1 August 2006