The Guardian 2 February, 2005

Iraqi unions' plea

The internationally recognised Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) has issued a plea for world-wide solidarity to secure the release of kidnapped union leader Talib Khadim. The President of the Iraqi Mechanics, Metalworkers and Printworkers Union was seized by insurgents at the Carton Board Manufacturing Company in the Al Zafarania District of Baghdad on January 27 while on union business.

The six gunmen involved beat the unionist repeatedly with the butts of their guns before tying his legs and hands and taking him to an unknown location. The incident took place in front of terrified workers from the company. Mr Khadim lives in the Al Zafarania District and is well respected as a community activist and champion of workers' rights.

The IFTU believes that the kidnapping is closely linked in its methods and intentions to the recent brutal assassination of Hadi Saleh, the IFTU International Secretary, whose murder was condemned by unions world-wide.

In spite of the dangers, Iraqi workers have made great strides towards building effective unions. The IFTU was formed in April 2003 and has since built 12 national trade unions. The IFTU is Iraq's union representative to the International Labor Organization (ILO) and was a participant at the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) 18th World Congress held last December in Japan. It has the support of the British Trade Union Congress and other European unions.

The IFTU is asking readers to send copies of any letters to the editor or other media items they might get published to their international contact in the UK, Abdullah Muhsin at

A support group has been set up in Perth. The WA Iraq Support Group can be contacted by phoning Jan Jermalinski on 08 9464 4423 during business hours.

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