At the recent conference of the Transport and Communication Workers' Union, affiliated to the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), delegates unanimously passed a motion instructing the newly elected union leadership to reclaim the union's Baghdad office building closed since 6 December 2003 by an act of illegal aggression by troops of the occupation authority.
The American occupation forces, using a force of about ten armoured cars and tens of soldiers, attacked the temporary headquarters of the IFTU (at the headquarters of the Transport and Communication Workers' Union, in Karkh district, Allawi Al Hilla, Baghdad) at 10.30 am on 6 December, and arrested eight of its leaders and cadres, who were handcuffed and taken away to an unknown destination.
The attackers 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 window glass, without giving any reason or explanation.
The eight arrested trade unionists were released unharmed on Sunday 7 December 2003.
In a sign of the growing confidence of Iraq's democratic, independent labour movement, on 1 July 2004 Transport and Communication Workers' Union leaders led a march on the office premises. The march included delegations from many branches of the union from Baghdad and other cities. The marchers reopened the building which adjoins one of Baghdad's main bus stations for the first time since it was closed by the Americans during their military raid.
In scenes which witnesses compared to a carnival, the Transport and Communication Workers' Union leaders re-dedicated themselves to the organisation of the Iraqi working class and in particular those workers employed by the private bus company which is believed to have made the original complaint about the organising activities of the IFTU which led to the illegal attack on the union headquarters by the US occupation forces. The offices will once more be used as the main Baghdad union premises of IFTU-affiliated trade unions.
IFTU condemns attacks on civilians
The Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) has condemned recent brutal attacks against innocent Iraqi civilians and places of worship. The cowardly bomb attacks on 1 August 2004 on Iraqi Christian churches in both Baghdad and Mosul, which led to death of many innocent Iraqi citizens, are desperate acts that will fail miserably.
The Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) calls upon the Iraqi interim government to bring to justice those responsible for these vicious attacks against Iraqi workers and civilians.