Wednesday, 23 December 2015
The Employee Commission of the Southern Oil Company held a large demonstration on the morning of 17 December in front of the Office of Financial Supervision in the Al-Ashar area of Basra, protesting the pay stop for workers’ and associates’ earnings, as well as the failure of the financial arm of the company to make transparent the final accounts. While workers are systematically being denied their earned salaries, the very office responsible for paying them has approved the payment of 193 billion dollars of company profits to the Ministry of Finance in Basra province.
More than 3000 workers participated in the demonstration, as well as associates from various oil sites. Abu Watan, a member of the employee commission, and the vice president of the General Federation of Trade Unions working in Iraq, made a passionate speech in which he condemned the Turkish assault on Iraq borders, pointing to a decision made by employees to prevent the entry of any Turkish oil company to all Iraqi oil stations until Turkish troops have been completely withdrawn from Iraq. He also called for the formation of an executive committee made up of oil company workers to audit the accounts of foreign oil companies which have been licensed round, and for audits of their recorded expenses. Finally, he demanded that the financial departments of all oil companies operating in Iraq not prevent or delay payment of employee profits.
Afterwards, the demonstration moved to the Governorate building, where a delegation of the commission met with the governor of Basra and the Director of Financial Department. The delegation demanded that they be paid 90% of the company’s recorded profits until the profits get verified. After lengthy discussion, it was agreed that the workers would be paid 50% of the profits, and that the process by which the company’s accounts were confirmed would be sped up.
The delegation of the committee stressed that in the case that the agreement found was not of implemented, the Employee Commission would set up a sit-in in front of the Southern Oil Company to call for the rightful meeting of their demands.
The Employee Commission of the Southern Oil Company described the situation within the Southern Oil company in particular, and in the oil sector in general, as “deteriorating”. This is due to the systematic disregard for workers’ rights by the administration of the Southern Oil Company and foreign companies, and the failure to pay due earnings for the years 2013 and 2014. This injustice is made all the more glaring in light of the fact that the government continues to pay large amounts to international companies, which are corporate licensing rounds. Workers and associates also feel angry because of increased Turkish aggression in the area, the sending of combat troops to Mosul without the approval of Iraq. This is especially egregious as Turkey has important economic interests in Iraq, given that their oil companies are now working in the oil fields of Iraq and Basra.
The Employee Commission of the Southern Oil Company emerged as important trade union in Basra, even while trade union activity was forbidden within the public sector. The commission includes labor leaders and professional trade unionists, who are well known in the defense workers’ rights in the oil sector, particularly in the Southern Oil Company. They include more than 30,000 employees from various parts of the company, both technical and administrative, which oversee many of the oil fields that have come under the control of foreign companies by rounds licenses.
By: The Employee Commission of the Southern Oil Company Media Office.