Unison leaders demand pull-out from Iraq

By Ben Russell

16 September 2004

Independent

Union leaders demanded a "speedy withdrawal" of British troops from Iraq yesterday as delegates lined up to condemn the invasion and its aftermath.

Delegates to the TUC conference at Brighton backed a motion calling for troops to be pulled out and for Allied military bases to be dismantled.

Keith Sonnet, deputy general secretary of the public service union Unison, won loud applause for attacking the war as based on "lies and deceit".

He said: "Each day, we watch with horror the continued carnage in Iraq. But we know who is to blame for the chaos. It is George bloody Bush and Tony Blair. We know there will never be peace in Iraq until the occupying British and American forces in Iraq leave. We demand our Government takes immediate steps to end its occupation and to return Iraq to its people. The war was illegal, based upon lies and deceit and it spawned continual human rights abuses."

Mr Sonnet urged trade unionists to join a huge anti-war rally in London planned for 17 October.

Stewart Brown of the Fire Brigades Union said: "It is time to stop the war. It is time for UK and US troops to withdraw. It is time for respect for international law."

Mary Davis, from the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, said: "There should be no mistake about our opposition to war and occupation. We don't support Anglo-US imperialism masquerading as a crusade to rid the world of tyrants.