Iraq: Trade unionist Kareem Johi has been punished

We have received this appeal from workers in Iraq against the victimisation of an Iraqi trade unionist in the oil industry. Please send message of protest to the Iraqi authorities and copies to the address provided here in the appeal.

The administration of the Petrochemical Industries in Basra, has issued administrative orders to punish the trade unionist Kareem Johi, despite the campaign and the intervention of the ICEM (International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions), directly. Kareem Johi was persecuted for leading a protest on January 28 in order to gain wage arrears for workers at the State Company for Petrochemical Industries (SCPI). Read more background information on the website of ICEM.

Kareem Johi (centre) handling leaflets at an October 2008 demonstration
Kareem Johi (centre) handling leaflets at an October 2008 demonstration

The orders include:

  1. Compulsory leave from his job for six months which means that he will receive only the minimum level of salary.
  2. Discounting 5% of his salary for six months.
  3. To prevent him from entering the company for six months.

We have great concerns regarding these orders, which can only be described as excessive in their aggressive procedure, considering them a message from the Iraqi authorities to ban the right of association and the right of organization at a time when they are pretending to be democratic.

The intervention of the international workers' movement is needed because this is not an individual act as much as it is an attack on all freedoms of organisation and against freedom of association.

In Solidarity,

With regards:
Akram Nadir (Union Organizer in Iraq and Kurdistan)
International Representative of the FWCUI

March 5, 2009


Send messages of protest to

Fawzi Fransou al-Hariri
Minister of Industry and Minerals
The Republic of Iraq
Al Nidal Street
Aviation Square

Via email to,, and

With a copy to and


Model letter

Dear Minister Fawzi Fransou al-Hariri,

I have for the past several weeks followed disdainfully the harassment, discrimination, and interrogation of workers at the State Company for Petrochemical Industries (SCPI) in Basra, who were engaged in a 28 January protest in pursuit of their wage arrears.

I now learn that management of the State Company for Petrochemical Industries (SCPA) in Basra, an enterprise controlled by the Ministry of Industry and Minerals, has severely punished Kareem Johi Sahan for his role in this internationally-recognised display of free assembly and free speech. I know for a fact that Kareem Johi has developed heart problems from recent interrogations.

I ask you today to intervene with Manager Hussain M Al-Shemary to prevent discipline of any kind of Mr Johi. Mr Johi is recognised by chemical workers' trade unions worldwide as a leading unionist inside Iraq, and any harm to his employment, his livelihood, or his standing inside SCPI will have an impact on SCPI in the greater chemicals industry.

Iraq ratified Convention 98 of the International Labour Organisation many decades ago, and one of the central tenets to that Convention is "workers shall enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment." I do not take this matter lightly. I closely watched and supported the legitimate protest of January 28, and know that management of this enterprise did agree to pay the workers their compensation. But the subsequent interrogation of leaders of the protest violates all principles of civil society. Further, targeting Kareem Johi Sahan for discipline - including loss of his job, entitlements, or his salary - is incomprehensible.

Again, I urgently request that you personally involve yourself in this matter at SCPA in Basra in order to prevent any lasting repercussions to this enterprise.



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