Iraqi oil workers protest over pay, threaten to strike

BASRA, Iraq: About 300 Iraqi oil workers staged a brief walkout in the southern oil hub of Basra Monday, protesting a lack of financial benefits and threatening to halt production if their demands were not met.

The demonstrators were engineers, technicians and workers at the state-run South Oil Co., which has some 18,000 employees developing some of Iraq’s big oil fields. They protested for three hours at the company’s headquarters in Basra and at another location near an oil field west of the city.

They warned they could shut down production in some oil fields if they were not given financial bonuses similar to those given their peers working in fields that are being developed by international oil companies.

“If South Oil Company does not give us our rights of profits and bonuses, we will stop production,” said Asaad Abu Hussein, an employee at SOC’s field production department.

“Just because we are poor and our field was not developed by a foreign company like the rest of the oil fields, we are being treated unfairly,” he said. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 10, 2011, on page 5.




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