Alex Gordon RMT | 14.10.2003 15:00 | Workers' Movements
Alex Gordon with Iraqi rail workers
The 300 train drivers and 200 mechanics in the Baghdad central workshops have formed a new trade union committee and elected representatives for the first time in decades. At a mass meeting of 600 railworkers in Baghdad recently the US Occupation Civil Authority was angrily confronted by the newly elected rail union officials who found the US administrators in discussions with representatives of Sadaam Hussein's 'yellow union'. Despite being threatened with guns by the US military, the rail union representatives stood their ground and saw off the former Baathist goons.
These new unions face enourmous difficulties. While they have scarcely any money or resources, the terrible condition of the rail system in Iraq and the continuing acts of sabotage against the rail network mean train drivers leaving Baghdad for Basra on the daily service have no signalling system at all and rely on two way radios to regulate traffic. Bombs on the line are a daily occurence, along with pistol attacks and the US occupation authorities are incapable of securing the line. The US multinational Bechtel has been put in charge of managing the Iraqi railway sector and is in the process of privatising the industry through a series of subcontracts to British and US firms.
National Executive Commitee RMT
Alex Gordon RMT