Hundreds of works from different Iraqi oil fields staged protests in front of the South Oil Company in Basra, the country’s economic capital and one of its major cities, calling for the expulsion of corrupt employees.
Security personnel at the company, which produces more than 80% of Iraqi oil, closed the main entrance yet with the numbers of angry workers increasing and their determination to enter, the doors were finally opened.
Protestors headed to the main offices and called for the ouster of the manager and the director of the administrative authority, according to a source from the company.
The protestors, who work in the fields of al-Ramlia north and south, al-Berjesia, Gharb al-Karna, and Bab al-Zubair, started shouting, “The oil of the people is not for the people, but for thieves” and “The master gets all the oil,” the last one referring to the company manager.
According to the banners they raised in the protest, workers were asking for their basic rights like housing as well as penalizing corrupt employees at the company.
The deputy manager asked that a delegation from the protestors meet him in his office, but protesters refused and asked him to come down. The protesters stayed for several hours.
Several of the workers stressed that their protests are not related to those staged in the city of Anbar and that they focus of the demands of workers as listed in the statement issued by the Committee for the Defense of Oil Workers, which organized the rally.
According to a source in the committee, several of the protesters were threatened by the company’s security officers under the pretext that workers stormed the building.
The committee, in which most oil workers in Iraq are represented, decided that another demonstration is to be staged in front of the company’s office in Bab al-Zubair to repeat once more the demands of the workers.
The committee reiterated workers’ statements about the protests being separate from other politically-oriented ones staged in several parts of Iraq and stressed that it will not allow politicians to use workers’ demands to serve their own ends.