Iraq unions successfully pushed for a new labor law because of their unified solidarity and with strong support of the U.S. and global union movements, according to a new documentary.
“Finally, after 12 years of persistent and consistent work, the Iraq labor movement was able to succeed with their international partners and with Iraq civil society … to get worker rights in Iraq,” says Michael Zweig, speaking in the video. Zweig is director of the Center for Study of Working Class Life at Stony Brook University, which produced the video.
“It’s a very big deal,” he said.
“Light from the Darkness: The New Iraq Labor Law” looks at the key role of U.S. Labor against the War in rallying support of the U.S. union movement in support of Iraqi workers’ struggle for labor rights after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
“Labor solidarity was something a … steel worker or paper worker or janitor in the United States could understand. They knew that every worker in the world should be treated fairly,” said Gene Bruskin, co-founder of USLAW.
Also speaking the video, Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau says, “the role of U.S. Labor against the War was so important in galvanizing the support of American workers for…reaching out and educating thousands of thousands of American workers through their unions around the U.S. and around the world through their global outreach.”
Passed by the Iraqi Parliament in August, the labor law allows for collective bargaining, limits child labor, improves rights for migrant workers, provides better protections against discrimination at work and is the country’s first legislation to address sexual harassment at work. The law also enshrines the right to strike, banned since 1987.
Says Bader-Blau: “The Solidarity Center and U.S. Labor against the War were there for Iraqi workers.”