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Iraq twinning advances solidarity
Long-standing bonds between the NASUWT and trade union colleagues in Iraq are to be further strengthened by a twinning project.
The NASUWT is to become the first UK trade union formally twinned with a free trade union in Iraq, by linking up with the Najaf al Asraf branch of the Iraqi Teachers’ Union (ITU).
The twinning follows the extensive work undertaken by the NASUWT in Iraq to support and assist in the building of free trade unions.
The twinning will encourage continued solidarity and support between teachers in the UK and Iraq.
Plans for the future include teachers from the UK and Iraq having exchange visits and developing closer working relations to learn more about trade union organisation and the challenges facing teachers in both nations.
The twinning is the result of the NASUWT’s continued partnership with the ITU, with both unions working together to fight to overturn the oppressive anti-trade union laws introduced by Saddam Hussein and to build a genuinely democratic labour movement in Iraq.
The NASUWT has provided training, both in Iraq and the UK, to members of the ITU in supporting them to build and develop their union, and, in turn, members of the ITU have helped the NASUWT to develop its organising and campaigning agenda.
Patrick Roach, NASUWT Deputy General Secretary and member of the Education International (EI) Executive Board, welcomed the twinning as a further step forward in advancing solidarity between teachers in Iraq and the UK.
He said: “The NASUWT is delighted to establish a twinning arrangement with colleagues in Najaf.
“We are fully committed to working in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Iraq and we regard the establishment of such links as representing a positive and progressive development.
“We will be working with our colleagues in the ITU to ensure that this relationship is mutually beneficial and effective.”
Abdullah Muhsin [right], UK representative of the ITU and the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW), an umbrella organisation representing trade unions in Iraq, added: “The NASUWT is highly regarded and respected by the GFIW and the ITU in particular.
“This is a great opportunity for the two unions to share ideas, promote education for all and strengthen the dialogue between different cultures and faiths. It is a really unique historical opportunity.”
For more information, go to www.nasuwt.org.uk/International
STOP THE VIOLENCE IN ZIMBABWE
The NASUWT is continuing its work to press for an end to the violence in Zimbabwe, which is threatening the lives of teachers.
The Union has a long-standing association with pressure group Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) and is supporting its Stop the Violence in Zimbabwe campaign.
In a show of support, NASUWT members joined trade unionists, activists and members of the Zimbabwean community in the UK at a protest outside the Zimbabwean embassy last month. The demonstration marked the third anniversary of Zimbabwe’s ‘run-off’ election when Mugabe’s Zanu PF party ran a campaign of violence, including mass rape, in a desperate bid to retain power.
Around 50 protesters, including Dr Patrick Roach, Deputy General Secretary of the NASUWT, waved placards and sang protest songs to voice their opposition to the continuing violence of President Robert Mugabe’s regime and called for free elections. ACTSA presented more than 1,300 petition cards to the embassy, and Dr Roach and others laid them outside the embassy with red roses, often used as a symbol of peaceful protest in Zimbabwe.
Dr Roach said: “The campaign for human rights, democracy and social justice is as alive today in Zimbabwe as it has ever been.
“The fact of the matter is that as a result of the Mugabe regime, thousands of ordinary people, including trade unionists, are being oppressed in Zimbabwe and any voice of opposition is being repressed.
“We have a moral duty and an ethical duty as a teaching trade union here in the UK to stand up for justice for Zimbabwean teachers and for Zimbabwean civil society.”
Zimbabwe has recently seen a rise in political violence with arbitrary arrests and beatings becoming more frequent in areas loyal to Zanu PF.
Members of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) have come under particular attack by party loyalists who are opposed to the union’s demands for equality, democracy and social justice.
Teachers have been beaten, detained without charge and forcibly transferred to other schools. The Union has been working through both ACTSA and its membership of Education International (EI), an umbrella organisation for teaching unions worldwide, to press for international action to rebuild and restore democracy to Zimbabwe.
As part of the campaign, the NASUWT and ACTSA have put together a booklet explaining the current situation in Zimbabwe and outlining what members can do to play their part in supporting their Zimbabwean colleagues.
The booklet is due to be published in the autumn term and will be available via the NASUWT and ACTSA websites.
Further details about the campaign can be found at www.actsa.org
and more information about events in Zimbabwe is available at the NASUWT’s website at www.nasuwt.org.uk/International
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