Global Policy Forum

Iraqi Trade Union Statement on the Oil Law


Statement issued by the Iraqi Labor Union Leadership at a Seminar held from 10 to 14 December 2006, in Amman, Jordan to discuss the draft Iraqi Oil Law

Published by PLATFORM
Official Translation

Iraq is rich in natural wealth, foremost among which is its oil wealth, the essence of the economic life for Iraq and the world, which has been the focus of attention of the large industrialized countries in particular. The British and American oil companies were the first to obtain the concession to extract and invest Iraqi oil, nearly 80 years ago. After Iraq got rid of this octopus network, these foreign oil companies have again attempted to dominate this important oil wealth, under numerous pretexts and invalid excuses.

Whereas oil and gas are greatly important for the Iraqi economy, and whereas the building of the State and its institutions are dependent on it, as the main source of the national income, it is therefore the right of the Iraqi people to read the draft oil law under consideration. The Iraqi people refuse to allow the future of their oil to be decided behind closed doors.

Iraqi public opinion strongly opposes the handing of authority and control over the oil to foreign companies, that aim to make big profits at the expense of the people. They aim to rob Iraq's national wealth by virtue of unfair, long term oil contracts that undermine the sovereignty of the State and the dignity of the Iraqi people.

For example, through production sharing agreements these companies shall not be subject to the Iraqi courts in the event of any dispute, nor to the general audit, nor to democratic control. The proprietorship of the oil reserves under this draft law will remain with the State in form, but not in substance.

This means that the occupier seeks and wishes to secure themselves energy resources at a time when the Iraqi people are seeking to determine their own future while still under conditions of occupation.

Iraq's labor and professional oil unions, after reading the draft oil law, studying the ideas and opinions contained within, and considering the negative impacts it shall have on the whole Iraqi society, have found this law to contain many deep and complex problems, at the administrative and technical levels.

These problems are not remedied in this law, which was rapidly prepared without involving Iraqi specialists and experts in the field in an extensive and organized manner satisfactory to all. Unfortunately even the media and the press have not viewed it, and had they done so, their noble pens would have written about it and criticized and analyzed it.

The draft oil law has overlooked investment of the natural gas that is being burnt off at high rates, causing Iraq to lose millions of dollars everyday, in addition to the environmental pollution this creates.

We have found a variety of negative points in this draft oil law, some of which undermine the sovereignty of the State. On the level of economics, it will impact the real income of the Iraqi citizen. His income would be low, while at the same time he would have weak purchasing power as the overall national income would be limited, and that would affect all the Iraqi people at the health, developmental, social and economic levels. In addition this law could encourage the termination of the workers services, either by dismissal or by reducing the total volume of workers, or by reducing compensation, among other possible methods.

There will be a high and insane jump in the fuel prices throughout the country, which would be negatively reflected on the social and economic lives of the Iraqis. The biggest disaster is that there will be an excuse and a pretext for the occupier to extend the stay of the occupying forces in Iraq to protect the foreign oil companies.

Therefore, the oil law, if not radically remedied, will produce calamities that will cause great damage and deprivation and a large increase in the number of Iraqi families under the poverty line.

Feeling responsible towards the working class in Iraq and their union representatives, we hereby submit our demands in specific points, the aim of which is to protect the oil wealth and the Iraqi people. We shall mobilize our workers and their families, and seek the assistance of civil society institutions in Iraq, and the Parliament that was elected by the people, to stand by us and assist us in obtaining the support and solidarity of the Arab and International Labor Unions.

Our demands, which are the demands of the Iraqi people as well as of the Iraqi workers, are as follows :

First : Not to expedite the issuance of the oil law, which would render the oil wealth seized and exploited by the oil Cartel (the multinational oil companies). We are asking to delay this law until it is well prepared by the Iraqis with expertise in the field of oil, with the participation of legal and economic professors from Iraqi universities, and after extensive consideration by the Iraqi trade unionists and the Oil Professional Unions.

Second : We are asking that the discussions about the oil law be attended by Labor Union Federations and Oil Professional Unions for the purpose of enriching the ideas and opinions of the legal provisions of the oil law, as these workers have on-the-ground and practical experience to bring to bear on these discussions. This practice of democracy would contribute to the protection of the oil wealth for the coming generations and for the whole country.

Third : We demand involvement of civil society organizations to contribute their opinions about the law, considering that Article (111) of the Iraqi Constitution specifies that oil and gas are the property of the Iraqi people. It is the property of the people in every place and time. There should be no manipulation of the terms to beautify them at the expense of the Iraqi people.

Fourth : We trust that our brothers, the members of the Parliament, shall study the draft oil law with accuracy and diligence, and that this law will not be approved with all the defects and negative points it contains, and that they will form specialized committees to study it and submit it to the Iraqi people after their consideration.

Fifth : We strongly reject the privatization of our oil wealth, as well as production sharing agreements, and there is no room for discussing this matter. This is the demand of the Iraqi street, and the privatization of oil is a red line that may not be crossed.

Sixth : We call upon the media and press in the spirit of brotherhood to play a role in conveying the facts to the Iraqi people. We are certain that the brothers and sisters in the field of media and press will stand by the Iraqi people to protect the oil wealth from any greedy exploitation.

Seventh : The Iraqi State and its regions should directly invest in oil and gas, as provided for in the Iraqi Constitution, through the support and development of the Ministry of Oil and its institutions in order to ensure the success of the extraction operations.

Eighth : Since work is the qualitative activity that sets apart the human experience, and it is the source of all production, wealth, and civilization, and the worker is the biggest asset to the means of production (we honour humanity), we demand that this law includes an explicit reference emphasizing the role of all workers in matters of oil wealth and investment, to protect them and build their technical capacity, both in and outside Iraq.

Ninth : It is possible to benefit from the experiences, technology and expertise of some foreign oil companies through purely Iraqi work contracts that preserve the sovereignty and standing of the State and the independence of its political and economic decision-making. The State should have the right to terminate these contracts whenever it wants however, under the sole jurisdiction of the Iraqi judiciary.

Tenth : To rehabilitate the Iraqi National Oil Company, by virtue of a law enacted for this purpose by the Parliament. The Iraqi National Oil company should shoulder the responsibility of Iraqi oil policy.

Signed :

1. Hassan Jouma'a Awaad.
2. Asaad Shahid.
3. Mouhsen Khmat.
4. Saba Qasem.
5. Karim Abdelallah Hamzeh.
6. Mahdi Haseeb Ali.
7. Abed Muhammad Sakhi.
8. Abdellatif Mohammad Jamil.
9. Adnan Abdelhalim Alssafar.
10. Khaldeh Alshehab Ahmad.
11. Nouzad Karim Ahmad.
12. Omar Hasan Abdelrahman.
13. Ehan Mustafa Abdellah.
14. Saadea Ahmad Mahmud.
15. Seddeeq Ramadan Hasan.
16. Alia Jabar Kadum.
17. Ghazy Muklif Moqten.
18. Muhammad Hameed Ali.

This is a reference to the Quran:

Walaqad karramna banee adama wahamalnahum fee albarri waalbahri warazaqnahum mina alttayyibati wafaddalnahum AAala katheerin mimman khalaqna tafdeelan

17:70 We have honored the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of our creation.

More Information on Iraq
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