“It is not true that the Sadrists are trying to dominate labour unions in Iraq,” Ali Hussein, a provincial politician and member of the Sadrist movement, argued. “The committee supervising the union elections is composed of members of all the political parties in Iraq. If any one party is dominating actions within the province, then this is because it has a large support base and is particularly popular in that province.”
So what is the solution? Earlier the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions, the body that represents a number of Arab nations’ unions, on a global basis, called upon the Iraqi government to hold off on the formation of trade union executives until the nation had come to a common vision for workers’ groups.
But this could be more difficult than it sounds. Despite the fact that Article 22 of Iraq’s Constitution guarantees citizens “the right to form and join unions and professional associations” it seems that the political will is hardly there.
Local legal expert and council member, Tariq al-Abarseem, agrees that new legislation is needed when it comes to labour activism and trade unions. But he also thinks that the Iraqi government and most Iraqi political parties are afraid of working on these kinds of laws.
“Free trade unions would create an influential voice for public opinions in this country,” he said. “And that is something that frightens both the government and the existing unions.”