Iraq Occupation Focus logo US troops face Iraqi demonstrators in Baghdad, July 2003
Iraq Occupation Focus : Campaigning to end the occupation of Iraq
Join our mailing list
Subscribe to the Iraq Occupation Focus newsletter via
Support our work by becoming a member of Iraq Occupation Focus >>

Iraq Occupation Focus
PO Box 44680
N16 7XX

Southern Oil Company Union appeal
Letter to trade unionists and anti-war groups
PDF file   Download this letter as a PDF file – 72 Kb

12 November 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Appeal on behalf of the Southern Oil Company Union, Basra

In the aftermath of the brutal US-led assault on Fallujah, there can be little doubt that the occupation is bringing grief and suffering to huge numbers of Iraqis. It must be brought to an end.

Since the spring of 2004, Iraq Occupation Focus has been campaigning to get UK troops out of Iraq. As a service to the wider anti-war movement, we produce a free fortnightly e-newsletter to help keep people informed about the realities of the occupation. We have organised a number of well attended public meetings and will be hosting a major international teach-in on 5th December on the subject of ‘Occupation and Resistance in Iraq’ (see enclosed leaflet). Following this we have organised a nation-wide tour for two of our guests – US ex-servicemen now running anti-war groups for military families.

But whilst campaigning against the occupation is our priority, we also feel we have a duty of solidarity towards those on the receiving end of the US-UK assault on Iraq. Daily life is a living hell for millions of Iraqis, with shortages of electricity and clean drinking water, the spread of disease and unemployment running at 60-70%. Iraq Occupation Focus is a broad group composed of individual activists from many backgrounds. Many of us are trades unionists, and as such we want to do what we can to help those rebuilding the tradition of trade unionism in Iraq under appalling conditions.

That’s why we’re writing to you today. The Southern Oil Company Trade Union is at the forefront of the fight against the free-market fundamentalism that the US has tried to usher into Iraq. Based in the UK-occupied southern zone around Basra, the SOCU is the largest affiliate of the newly founded Basra Oil Union which represents in total around 30,000 oil sector workers.

SOCU represents the best traditions of independent trade unionism. After having physically expelled many of their Baathist managers, SOCU members began autonomous reconstruction of oil facilities which had been destroyed during the war. When the occupation authorities imposed what amounted to poverty wages on the oil industry, they threatened strike action and won an increase.

SOCU stresses its political independence, both from the US-appointed Iraqi Interim Government and from all political parties. It was central to the shutdown of oil exports in protest at the siege of Najaf in August. It is also battling to prevent the wholesale privatisation of Iraq. That’s why it now needs the solidarity of western trade unionists. And it needs that solidarity to take practical form. In particular, it needs money to continue the basic tasks of workplace organising and workers’ representation.

We hope that you will be able either to organise a collection in your workplace for the SOCU or pass the motion that we’ve enclosed and make a donation from your branch or trades council funds. We also hope that in doing so, you will consider a donation to Iraq Occupation Focus as well, so that we can continue our campaign to expose the realities of the occupation of Iraq and bring the troops home now.

Yours fraternally,

Signature: Ewa Jasiewicz Signature: James O'Nions

Ewa Jasiewicz
UK Contact for the Southern
Oil Company Union

James O’Nions
Iraq Occupation Focus


1. Iraq Occupation Focus will endeavour to provide speakers for union branches, trades council meetings or anti-war groups to speak about the occupation or the SOCU. We cannot guarantee we will be able to do so as we run on an entirely volunteer basis, and engagements in London will be easier, but in all cases please contact us at

2. In the event that you contribute towards our appeal, please make cheques payable to ‘Iraq Occupation Focus’ and post them to PO Box 44680, London N16 7XX. Please ensure you explain how much of the money is for our appeal for SOCU, and how much is a contribution to Iraq Occupation Focus. Please also tell us if your organisation has passed a motion of affiliation to IOF.

3. You can find out more about the work of Iraq Occupation Focus by visiting our website at Whilst there, you can also sign up to receive our free e-newsletter, and look at back issues.