19 August 2005

Trade Unionist and the New Iraqi Constitution

The IFTU has produced a very sensible list of concerns with new Iraqi Constitution:

"The IFTU drew the UN Support Team’s attention to four discrete areas within the draft Constitution, which has changed frequently in recent weeks and which according to the IFTU in its current draft fails to adequately address the justified concerns of its members. These are;

1. Rights of Children: IFTU wishes to insist on the rights of Children aged younger than 16 years of age, not to be allowed to work and to have a full education. IFTU expressed its concern that the draft Constitution made general references to the rights of children without defining at what age these rights apply. In IFTU’s estimation this is a serious weakness, which would have the effect of undermining future attempts to improve the terrible situation for Iraqi children.

2. Right to Strike: IFTU expressed its strong dismay that an explicit Constitutional right of workers to take strike action has been removed from the draft version of the Constitution, although such a right exists in the current Transitional Administrative Law. The draft Constitution refers only to the right of workers to representation, without defining the right of workers to join or form the trade union representation of their choice, or as mentioned the right to withdraw their labour.

3. Rights of Women: IFTU made clear the complete opposition of the trade union to any attempt to revive the notorious Decree 137, which sought to remove the fundamental human rights of women in the name of imposing sharia law. Womens’ rights to marriage, divorce, to own property, inherit and pass on property to their children and others, to access education at all levels, to work and to play a full part in all aspects of civil society and political life must be guaranteed in the Constitution of a modern democratic, federal Iraq.

4. Separation of Politics and Religion: IFTU insists on the complete separation of the powers and authority of ‘the mosque’ from the constitutional state law. Freedom to practice religion must be guaranteed by the Constitution. The Constitution should not take Islam as its sole source of legitimacy. "

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