By Pablo Velasco
The Unemployed Union of Iraq (UUI) has organised a series of dramatic protests in the last week, and is already making gains. The union has so far organised more than 100,000 unemployed men and women in the cities of Baghdad, Mosul, Nasiriyah, Kirkuk, and elsewhere, and has organised demonstrations across the country.
In Baghdad the Unemployed Union began a sit-in on 28 July in front of the US civil administration headquarters, demanding $100 US dollars (£65) a month unemployment benefit for every unemployed worker. US officials responded by arresting Qasim Hadi, the Secretary of the UUI, and more than 50 workers. In response, the UUI has called for demonstrations outside American embassies around the world in protest.
The union says neither the US civil administration nor the Governing Council of nationalist and Islamist parties have the answers for workers. Instead it wants workers to organise themselves. In Nasiriyah, where 400,000 are unemployed in a city of one million people, the UUI have forced Italian troops to allow them to distribute food aid and begin organising local elections. Despite an estimated four million unemployed workers in Iraq, the UUI is laying the foundations for an independent labour movement in Iraq.