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[ Converted text/html to text/plain ] Interview with Amy Newell on the International Campaign for Labor Rights in Iraq [Note: The following are brief excerpts from an interview with Amy Newell, national organizer of US Labor Against War (USLAW), that was published June 19 in France by Informations Ouvrieres (Labor News), the weekly newspaper of the French Workers Party (PT) The interview was conducted by François Forgue, a reporter with Informations Ouvrieres (Labor News). The French Workers Party is a supporter of the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples (ILC), the labor coalition that initiated the international campaign for labor rights in Iraq.] Question: Tell us about the document on the U.S. corporations awarded contracts in Iraq that was produced by US Labor Against War. Amy Newell: In mid-May, Daniel Gluckstein of the International Liaison Committee (ILC) came to Washington, DC, to meet with the co-conveners of USLAW and to discuss what role USLAW could play in promoting the international campaign for labor rights in Iraq. The co-conveners came up with the idea that we could assist this campaign by preparing a report on the U.S.-based multinational corporations that are getting the contracts to "rebuild" -- that is, privatize -- Iraq. We felt it was important that the workers of Iraq know what we know about these corporations -- their labor records, their ties to the Bush administration, their histories of scandals and corruption -- so as to help them in their efforts to organize these corporations and build the unions of their choice. Of course, this is only a preliminary text -- it's a work in progress. We put it together in a little over than two weeks. [Note: You can download a copy of this 36-page report for free from the USLAW website at www.uslaboragainstwar.org . Hard copies can be obtained for $5 from USLAW, P.O. box 153, 1718 M St., NW, Washington, DC 20036.] We were extremely pleased to be able to release this report in Geneva over the weekend of June 14-15, both to the 130 delegates from 30 countries attending the 10th Annual ILC Conference in Defense of ILO Conventions and to the 400-plus labor representatives who make up the Workers' Group of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Not only did our report and participation in Geneva help to initiate this campaign for workers' rights in Iraq, it helped to establish an international labor network of unions interested in organizing these companies on a global scale. Clearly many of the corporations we have profiled also have operations in dozens of other countries around the world. Workers in many of these countries may be experiencing the same kinds of problems we are experiencing with Halliburton, Bechtel, SSA, MCI and all the other corporations. Our text, we believe, can be use of use to them in their own organizing efforts. Question: What link do you see between this campaign for labor rights in Iraq and the overarching issue of the U.S.-British occupation of Iraq? Amy Newell: Clearly, you cannot have trade union rights without basic democratic rights. The appeal issued by the trade unionists in Geneva for this labor rights campaign explicitly condemns the illegal occupation of Iraq. A statement issued by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) makes the point that democracy has to have roots in the people, and the best way to do that is to have strong and independent trade unions; they are the anchor of democracy. Question: Working people around the world, especially the most militant and organized components of the working class, were very impressed that important sections of the organized trade union movement in the United States came out against the U.S. war on Iraq. And they were doubly impressed when US Labor Against War, the coalition that spearheaded the struggle against the war within the U.S. labor movement, requested broad labor support for its International Labor Declaration Against the War on Iraq and held an international press conference on February 19th with unions representing more than 130 millions workers from 53 countries. How do you and USLAW see the relationship between your work in the United States and the international trade union movement, and what do you think can be done next to build this international labor movement against war? Amy Newell: We believe that U.S. labor must be part of the broader international labor movement against war -- for peace and social justice. That is why we initiated the campaigns you speak about. Our main task, though, remains to build broader support for our USLAW message among the rank-and-file workers in our own country. The first thing we will want to do is use our USLAW "Corporate Profiles" document to educate workers in the United States -- our own union members -- about the corporate rip-off that is going on in Iraq. We didn't just prepare this report for everybody else, we are going to use it as an educational and organizing tool in the United States. We think it will open the eyes of a lot of workers to the true purpose of this war -- which was not to promote democracy or destroy weapons of mass destruction, as Bush claimed, but rather was aimed at promoting the privatization of Iraq by Bush's corporate cronies. Where do we go from here? We are pleased that our "Corporate Profiles" document will be translated into Arabic and many other languages. This will make it a truly international campaign for labor rights -- not only in Iraq, but globally. Also in Geneva, we proposed organizing an international labor delegation to Iraq with the aim of gathering facts about the state and needs of the workers in Iraq. We will want to be part of this delegation and to build support for it widely among working people in the United States. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Tired of spam? Get advanced junk mail protection with MSN 8. ===References:=== 1. http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org 2. http://g.msn.com/8HMOENUS/2734??PS= _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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