August 23rd, 2006
As we glimpse the unravelling civil war in Iraq that accompanies the brutal United States occupation, I, for one, look for any signs of an alternative to the sectarian frenzy and the puppet government. the Associated Press today reports an oil workers strike. While small, perhaps (hope spring eternal) it symbolizes the beginning of something larger.
Iraq Oil Workers on Strike
By QAIS AL-BASHIR Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Hundreds of oil company employees went on strike Tuesday for higher pay, officials said.
The job action cut supplies to power stations and factories as Iraq faces its worst fuel shortage since Saddam Hussein’s 2003 ouster.
About 350 workers from the Iraqi Pipes and Lines Company in the southern city of Basra and another 200 in Nasiriyah, about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, walked off the job Tuesday morning, according to the head of the workers’ union.
The workers want higher salaries, paid holidays and a share of the profits. Monthly salaries at the company currently range from $130 to $280.
The company runs tankers and pipelines transporting oil and gas from the Shuaiba refinery in Basra to electricity stations, factories and companies in southern Iraq.
Although the strike was likely to add to the current fuel shortage, its effects would be limited, said Oil Ministry spokesman Assim Jihad.
“Definitely that will create a shortage in oil products, but not to a big degree,” Jihad said, adding that refineries at Beiji in northern Iraq and Dora in southern Baghdad were still functioning and able to supply fuel.
Iraq has been plagued by periodic fuel shortages since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Even though the country has the world’s third-largest proven oil reserves, it is forced to depend on imports because of an acute shortage of refined products such as gasoline, kerosene and cooking gas. Sabotage of pipelines by insurgents, corruption and aging refineries have been blamed.
Iraq’s three main oil refineries _ Dora, Beiji and Shuaiba _ are working at half their capacity, processing only 350,000 barrels per day compared to 700,000 barrels a day before the war.