18 May 2019
Statement from the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Trade Unions in Iraq:
Workers in the Public Company for Leather Industries in Baghdad are facing plans to seize, liquidate and restructure the company in the name of new investment. Workers are preparing for a new wave of confrontations starting tomorrow, Sunday 19 May 2019.
Workers in the leather industries have continued their protests and their struggle against turning their company’s lands into a shopping mall which will cause thousands of workers to lose their jobs. After successfully thwarting previous attempts and maintaining the public company, the administration along with new government ministry decisions are calling for the company to be restructured and transferred to investors. Such a move means all workers will lose their jobs.
Iraq’s Public Company for Leather Industries, which includes direct production sectors and tanning plants, is a long-established company that dates back more than 80 years. It employs experienced workers who support the lives of thousands of families that depend on these workers’ salaries. Restructuring and/or liquidating the company in the name of investment is a direct threat to the lives of thousands of people.
Investment and privatization schemes, initiated by the former regime in 1987, has caused disastrous consequences. For example, the privatization of canning industries, such as in Karbala, and of bicycle factories and major sewing companies, resulted in these industries disappearing, industries which provided Iraqis a range of products and offered tens of thousands of jobs.
Recently, the Abu Ghraib Dairy Company was transferred to private investment after 29 billion Iraqi Dinars (approx. $24 million US) were spent renewing their factory. In the name of investment, this transfer occurred in exchange for a letter of financial guarantee of only 240 million Iraqi Dinars (approx. $200,000 US).
This so-called investment is a form of looting but under the protection of the law, a ploy to cover the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to liquidate local industries, restructure the economy, and redistribute wealth to partners of the World Bank and the IMF. This means that elements of the Iraqi government, as representatives and partners of global capitalism, are causing the starvation and unemployment of millions of Iraqis.
Fertilizer factory workers in the southern province of Basra continuously resisted and frustrated privatization efforts and won this struggle. Today, leather workers struggle against these same schemes, which will also be faced by all other workers in public companies.
The workers have no other option but to resist these investment and privatization projects, standing in unity and in one trench together.
While the struggle of workers in the leather industries represents the fortress of resistance to investment and privatization in the Ministry of Industry, workers in all sectors are invited to stand with them and support them.
The workers of leather industries are not alone. They express the interests of millions of workers who are threatened with the same fate. Millions stand with them, either directly or in solidarity and support.
Long live the struggle of the workers in the leather industries facing privatization and investment.
Long live the will of the workers.