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Saturday, December 20 2014 @ 09:15 PM CST

Iraqi Workers Kick Out KBR! Begin Autonomous Reconstruction!

News ArchiveSubmitted by Ewa:

Iraqi Oil Workers Throw Out KBR, Reconstruct Their Own Workplaces Autonomously

Ewa Jasiewicz

Occupied Basra, 12/12/03

Southern Oil Company Trade Unionists have declared their workplaces a
no-go zone for Halliburton, formerly headed by US Vice President Dick
Cheny's, subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. KBR was give a no-bid contract
by USAID to reconstruct bomb-shattered oil refineries and installations
in Iraq. Included in the contracts was authorisation to export and market
Iraqi Oil. The SOC Union however, representing over 10,000 workers has
banned all KBR representatives and foreign workers from entering their
sites. SOC Union Head Hassan Jum'a says, ''Till this moment we haven't
needed any foreigners to come in. We can do everything ourselves'.

Worker unrest erupted in Bergeseeya oil refinery and control section in
October following the employment of Indian and Pakistani labourers by
Kuwaiti subcontractors Al Khorrafi Company. Workers staged a wildcat
two-day strike, physically threw out the foreign workers and demanded a
portion of the 70% unemployed population of Iraq be employed instead. The
employment of foreign labourers was halted immediately.

Occupation Watch visited SOC workers in the North Rumeilla crude oil
pumping station, drilling and gas company and discovered that workers had
been carrying out reconstruction work independently, using their own worn
tools, canibalised spare parts from old equipment and parts purchased
form the local market. Ali Mohammad Jowad, an engineer working in the
water injection section of the station told OW, 'We haven't seen any KBR
employee do any repair work whatsoever. They are not involved in any
reconstruction in any way. KBR came and checked our equipment and
promised to repair looted equipment but until this moment, nothing is
repaired'.

Workers started autonomously reconstructing in June with cleaning and
repairing what they could including water pumps and oil well safety
gauges. 'During this preparing' recalls Ali Mohammad, 'We also
considered that we need a place to rest and sleep so we built a place
for ourselves to stay in too'. According to workers, Reconstruction is
40% of what it needs to be with regards to buildings and workers have
rebuilt 50% of their equipment autonomously. 'KBR hasn't even seen our
work, they've said Nothing about our repairs. All our work has been our
own' says Ali Mohammad. Many of the same workers who rebuilt North
Rumeilla following the devastation of the first gulf war 13 years ago
also participated in reconstruction again this war-round.

Hassan Jum'a, Head of the SOC Union, father of 6,and living in a
decrepit, crumbling house in the 1999 missile-blasted neighbourhood of
Jhoomouria where piles of garbage rot in the street, is well respected
throughout Basra, not only for his hardline position on workers rights
and refusal of any 'foreign interference' including Occupation
administration orders and rulings, but also for bringing together both
communists and religious party members as location representatives in the
Union. Uncompromising, direct and possessing a totally unreadable face, he
presides over seven union councils in seven different locations.

He told OW that Bremer's June Public Notice (being implemented gleefully
by bosses throughout Iraq like an Order) has had no effect on them.
Bremer's notice declares that the CPA 'respects Iraqi law' including
anti-worker Baath dictatorship law, chiefly 1987's order 151 which turned
all Iraqi workers into civil servants - state employees, forbade
independent trade unions and absorbed all workers into state-run Unions
functioning as organs of surveillence and repression. 'Nothing has
changed since Bremer's dictates' he states flatly.

The SOC union does however have full management backing. 'The GD meets
all out demands', says Jum'a, 'sometimes he signs our orders without even
looking at them'. And indeed the Union has members within all levels of
the company from buying committee members to reward and bonuses
committees, plus its own minibuses and building and has been holding
regular ceremonies marking the latest autonomous worker reconstruction
effort. The most recent was in Majnoon , two weeks ago which saw workers
rebuild the damaged refinery independently, using KBR materials but
refusing any KBR personnel involvement. KBR were furious at the barring.

'At first they refused to supply us with the materials but in the same
time we were insisting in our demands -“ we insisted that Iraqi people
made the repairs', told us Jum'a. ' Then they tried to negotiate 50% KBR,
50% Iraqis, we said no, they then bargained for 5% foreign workers, then
1% but we still refused. Drivers are the only foreigners allowed anywhere
near'. 'Several times KBR engineers told us ' We are amused by the way
you are working' and they were surprised at the fast results'.

Indeed, the mirage of the mystified 'West Knows Best' multibillion
dollar reconstruction industry falls apart when undermined by the truth
of ordinary Iraqi workers rebuilding their own country using the
inventiveness, ingenuity and experimentality they learned throughout the
13-years of collectively punishing UN-US-UK enforced sanctions and
refusing all moves to privatise their workplaces. However, despite these
skills and talents borne under duress, further training and new
technologies with no strings attached - are deeply desired by workers
at all levels of industry, in order to explore, diversify and build upon
skills already acquired and foster greater autonomy and non-reliance on
foreign experts and corporations.

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Iraqi Workers Kick Out KBR! Begin Autonomous Reconstruction! | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
comment by dfs
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 12 2003 @ 02:45 PM CST
come on iraqis, kick out the yanks!
comment by Mario
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 12 2003 @ 03:52 PM CST
and the GD, and the heads of the union. History proves that pyramids are easily corrupted with a little money. Perhaps the latest and best example comes from Russia, where Oleg Shein, a militant unionist, once endorsed by Trotskyists in his election campaign, has backslided on all of his ideals.
NEFAC should use him as a pin-up in a future article for what\'s wrong with \"democratic centralism\".

comment by marko
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 13 2003 @ 08:03 AM CST
this is a really good article; there is another one detailing how US occupation troops are smashing their way into union buildings and arresting unionists at

http://www.alternet.org/print.html?StoryID=17364

So, much for \"Iraqi freedom\". Fancy that, using Saddam era anti union laws to suppress unions for KBR etc. I thought the stuffed thanksgiving turkey was the lowest these bastards could go, but looks like I was wrong.