When I lived in Israel I got to know another American oleh (immigrant) named Eric Lee. Like me, Eric is a pro-labor social democrat/democratic socialist who shared my exasperation at the lack of class consciousness within Israel’s left-wing political parties (a subject for another post). As a good socialist, Eric lived on a kibbutz where, during Binyamin Netanyahu’s term as prime minister, he produced a proto-weblog called BibiWatch. Eric then started a website called LabourStart, devoted to tracking worldwide trade-union activity and exchanging ideas. A few years ago he relocated to London and is now one of the acknowledged mavens on how the labor movement can best take advantage of cyberspace.
Here Eric reports on a meeting with a representative with the recently-formed Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions. (The official “unions” of the Saddam Hussein era were, of course, unions in name only.)
The IFTU was officially formed following a meeting attended by some 400 people at the headquarters of the transport union in Baghdad in May. It lists its goals as the following:
* 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 Saddam’s war).
The IFTU has made contact with the “unions” in neighboring Syria which, as Eric points out, are no more authentic than the Saddam-era unions in Iraq. Obviously it would be good if free and democratic unions around the world would offer their solidarity and assistance to the IFTU as well.