A long planned programme for training and development of teacher trade unionism in Iraq has begun under the expert guidance of NASUWT, an EI affiliate in Britain.
Nasser Behadili and Ahmed Al Shiblawi, both of the Iraq Teachers’ Union (ITU), joined Nadir Qadir, of the Kurdish Teachers’ Union (KTU), to attend the NASUWT’s annual conference. They then spent more than one week at the NASUWT headquarters in Rednal, Birmingham, where they participated in a major trade union training programme. The latter covered a wide range of issues from why trade unions are important, essential union values and beliefs, through to how to organise and recruit teachers from the grassroots and develop internal structures that can facilitate collecting bargaining and negotiations.
All three Iraqi participants are now set to run their own courses throughout the 18 provinces of Iraq. Their aspiration is to have covered the whole country by the end of a two-year period, with the result of building a strong teacher trade union base with a clear understanding of the role and merit of free independent unions in a democratic and stable society.
The positive impact of the course has already been felt: the first course to be run by Al Shiblawi took place in Baghdad between 28-29 May. Of the 18 participants who were trained, 11 were women, while the feedback showed that all the participants felt ‘very positive’ about the course. Some trainees stated that the experience had encouraged them and clarified why they wanted to be active in the union movement.
In an emerging democracy like Iraq, with immense vulnerabilities, an independent, non-sectarian trade union movement of teachers has an undeniably major role to play in the stabilisation of the nation.
EI and the British Trade Union Congress (TUC) also brought their support and advice to the training. The British teacher trade union movement has co-operated with either solidarity or conference visits from the NUT and ATL, while the international movement has helped through the active participation in the training of the French education union, UNSA.