Opinion Former Article

NASUWT congratulates Iraqi trade union leader on prestigious international award

The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has congratulated Ahmed Jassam Salih Al-Shiblawi of the Iraqi Teachers Union (ITU) who has been announced as the winner of Education International’s Mary Hatwood Futrell Human and Trade Union Rights Award.

The NASUWT nominated Ahmed for the award, which will be presented at Education International’s World Congress in Ottawa in July, for his commitment and dedication to building an independent trade union voice for teachers in Iraq, despite facing violent oppression from Iraqi authorities.

Following the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has witnessed growing terrorism and sectarianism with free trade unions coming under increasing attack.

Ahmed and his family have been subjected to threats and intimidation from repressive forces. Three of his brothers have been targeted, kidnapped and killed since 2009.

Despite these attempts to silence him and his colleagues, Ahmed has played a key role in ensuring that the ITU is united, independent, free from political interference and capable of recruiting and organising its members.

The NASUWT works closely with ITU and other sister trade unions in Iraq and has today sponsored a conference in London organised by the Iraqi Democratic Current to examine the future of Iraq.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“The NASUWT warmly congratulates Ahmed on this award. It is a much deserved recognition of his immense contribution to the fight for free and fair trade unions and to securing quality education for children and young people in Iraq.

“At the start of 2014, Iraq was on the brink of civil war. Many thousands have died in the ongoing conflict.  The basic rule of law has broken down. Schools, colleges and universities are under daily threat of violence. ITU offices across Iraq are either closed or being occupied by extremist militia. Despite this, Ahmed has continued to be a voice for teachers and for the ITU.

“Ahmed’s courage and commitment to justice, equality and democracy has never faltered. He continues to campaign actively and is working together with other democrats in Iraq to secure a future for Iraq that is free from terrorism, violence and sectarianism.”

Dr Patrick Roach, Deputy General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Trade union rights provide the litmus test of a society’s progress towards freedom and democracy.

“Yet, presently, we are seeing labour laws being driven through the Iraqi Parliament which seek to repress democratic institutions, including the ITU.

“The way that trade unions, including the ITU, are treated, and whether they are permitted to operate freely and independently without government interference provides a critical measure of progress of the conditions that exist for ordinary people.

“Ahmed has constantly sought to make the case for trade union pluralism, which is a fundamental building block for securing a democratic future for Iraq.

“Ahmed’s exemplary leadership is ensuring that the voice of teachers in Iraq cannot be ignored or silenced.”
 



Notes to editors
Education International’s World Congress is being held from 21-26 July in Ottawa, Canada.

Lena Davies
Press & Media Officer
NASUWT
0121 457 6250/07867 392746
lena.davies@mail.nasuwt.org.uk

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