Resolution in solidarity with Iraqi workers

published 25 July 2007 updated 31 March 2017

The 5th World Congress of Education International (EI) meeting in Berlin, Germany, from 22 to 26 July 2007,

1. WHEREAS, concerned people around the world share a desire for an end to the violence in Iraq and hope for a future in which the rights of workers and all people in Iraq will be respected; and

2. WHEREAS, the number of Iraqi civilians who have been killed or wounded to date is horrendous. The victims in this conflict are overwhelmingly the Iraqi people, whose attempts to take control of their own destiny are continually frustrated. These aspirations were clearly demonstrated when Iraqis defied widespread intimidation and escalating violence by turning out in the millions to elect an Iraqi government and approve a constitution; and

3. WHEREAS, the Bush Administration's most recent strategy of placing 28,000 additional US troops in Iraq has not resulted in a reduction of violence, and

4. WHEREAS, Iraq has witnessed violent kidnappings and attacks aimed specifically at the academic community that have resulted in deaths of hundreds of educators and the exodus of many more. The loss of these professionals - who were charged with training the next generation of Iraq's citizens and leaders -- is not only a human tragedy, but also an impediment to Iraq's reemergence as a democratic nation; and

5. WHEREAS, despite legal obstacles, Iraq's workers and their institutions are already active in the struggle for democracy. Trade unionists are being targeted for their activism, and some have paid for their valor with their lives. One essential pillar of any democracy is a strong, free democratic labor movement, and this is certainly true in Iraq. In this regard EI believes that the Iraqi Teachers Union (ITU) which was founded in 2003 has a key role in contributing to the building of civil society in Iraq, in establishing equality of access to education irrespective of gender, ethnicity, culture or religion;

6. WHEREAS, the building a democratic Iraq is dependent on the support and participation not only of a broad coalition of nations, but also of democratically-oriented non-governmental organizations. In this regard, the international labour movement has an important role to play;

7. WHEREAS EI specificly deplores the two raids by US and Iraqi forces at the end of February 2007 on the head offices of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW) involving the arrest of a member of staff, the destruction of furniture and the confiscation of a computer and fax machine;

8. RESOLVED, that EI opposes the war in Iraq and calls upon the American government and coalition partners to seek a diplomatic settlement to achieve a political solution that includes allies and Iraq's neighbors, and to facilitate an appropriate exit strategy of foreign troops in a rapid and timely manner; and

9. RESOLVED, that EI applauds the courage of the Iraqi people and unequivocally condemns the use of terror in Iraq and, indeed, anywhere in the world. EI calls on its affiliates and the international community to help the Iraqi people build capacity and establish basic security; and

10. RESOLVED, that EI considers it a moral and practical imperative that military action in Iraq must be followed by international programs to rebuild the nation's infrastructure. The long-suffering Iraqi people deserve a chance for a normal life of self-government and self-respect. EI will strongly support the development of education and cultural initiatives and programs by international organizations, governments, trade unions and other democratic forces to promote democracy, the rule of law and tolerance in Iraq; and

11. RESOLVED, that EI supports the efforts of Iraqi teachers and other workers to form independent labour unions. In the absence of an adequate labour law, EI calls on the Iraqi government, as well as domestic and international companies operating in Iraq, to respect internationally recognized International Labour Organization standards that call for protecting the right of workers to organize free from all government and employer interference and the right to organize and bargain collectively in both the public and private sectors. These rights must also be extended to include full equality for working women; and

12. RESOLVED, that EI condemns the fact that Saddam Hussein's decree No. 150, issued in 1987 that abolished union rights for workers in the extensive Iraqi public sector, has not been repealed. Moreover, we decry decree No. 875 of the new Council of Ministers, which confiscated all funds held by trade unions and prevents them from dispensing their own money. Payroll deductions for union dues are also not permitted under current laws. EI calls on the Iraqi government to place as a top priority the adoption of a new labour law that conforms to international labour standards to replace these anti-worker laws and decrees; and

13. RESOLVED, that EI renews its demand for the Iraqi government to bring to justice, in accordance with the law, those responsible for violence against the academic community, and that the Iraqi government guarantees the protection of schools at every level, and the safety of their administrators, faculties, staff and students; and

14. RESOLVED, that EI condemns any acts of intimidation targeting union and democracy activists. In concert with the international trade union movement, EI will continue to provide our full solidarity to Iraq's workers as they struggle for an end to the violence and a more just and democratic nation;

15. RESOLVED that EI declares its support for the work of the Iraqi Teachers Union (ITU) in seeking to establish a free, independent, non-political, non-sectarian and democratic teachers' trade union.