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December 10, 2003

Beacon of democracy to the Middle East, Part 764. Nathan Newman, Tim Dunlop, and Robert Corr all link to this report of American troops attacking the headquarters of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions.

What is the IFTU? Well, according to this report from Eric Lee, it’s an attempt to rebuild normal trade unionism in Iraq after the collapse of the Saddam’s sham unions. Its stated goals are:

  • workers’ rights;
  • a new democratic trade union movement actively involved in influencing economic and social policies and rebuilding civil society, together with other social movements;
  • the increased role of women at all levels within unions and civil society;
  • cooperation with international and regional labour movements, and also to seek their help and cooperation to equip Iraqi working people with new skills and knowledge;
  • special attention to social and economic needs of disabled people (of which there are many after Saddam92s war).
According to the press release cited by Newman, Dunlop, and Corr, American soldiers
ransacked and destroyed the IFTU’s possessions, tearing down banners and posters condemning acts of terror, tarnishing the name of the IFTU and that of the General Union of Transport Workers (on the building’s main front) with black paint and smashing windows glass, without giving any reason or explanation.
And took away eight staffers, in handcuffs, to an unknown destination.

Evidently, while our occupying forces immediately set about rewriting Iraqi business laws, we’ve let Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical anti-labor laws stay in place. Nathan Newman summarizes:

Unions and collective bargaining are banned in all the companies left over from the old regime. The US Occupation is enforcing the same low wage scale that Saddam imposed in his last years. As one reporter notes, “Most workers get about $60 a month, a small group gets $120, and a tiny minority (mostly administrators and managers) $180. This is the same wage scale that prevailed under the last few years of the Saddam Hussein regime.”
Way to build a modern, peaceful middle class, guys.

Here’s more. [11:38 AM]

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Comments on Beacon of democracy to the Middle East, Part 764.:

Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 01:02 PM:

Oh, goodness.

You know, only three months after the start of the US's postwar occupation of Japan, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers -- known Republican Douglas MacArthur and his chosen staff -- put in the strongest labor laws Japan had ever had. Right to strike, right to collective bargaining.

[bruxism deleted]


Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 01:14 PM:

As current reports are that everyone detained was released, I am sure we will find out that this was some sort of mistake.

But what a bunch of maroons . . .

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 01:29 PM:

Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions? Rumsfeld thought IFTU stood for International Feyadeen Terrorists Underground. A natural enough mistake. Sorry about that, guys.

But seriously, now, Bechtel isn't really a hotbed of pro-worker sentiment, is it? And they have the President's ear (not to mention other parts of his anatomy).

Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 02:54 PM:

Why would they want to build a stable middle class over there? They are trying to disassemble the stable middle class over here at home.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 03:08 PM:

[strident whiny ideologue]
Class warfare!
[/strident whiny ideologue]

BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 08:20 PM:

I see.
So, our troops aren't there to do nationbuilding.
They're there to be FUCKING PINKERTONS (hawk, spit).


Inexplicably, this makes me angrier than thw whole litany of wrongdoing until today.

Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 05:09 AM:

(Include standard indignation war-dance.)

But seriously, why expect anything else of a policy initiative running along tracks laid by neoconservatives? Those guys are ex-Trots. They know what trades unions are for: they're a platform for entryists like themselves, and if you let them flourish who knows what kind of anti-neocon popular fronts might grab hold of them?

Boot, meet defenceless face. (Pace Orwell.)