AK News reported that Mr Abdulkarim Luaibi oil minister of Iraq has imposed USD 60,000 fines on 16 employees from the Masafi refinery in Basra for participating in a strike last year.
Mr Luaibi accused the refinery workers of diminishing state funds by halting production at Iraq’s second largest refinery for 17 hours in March 2010. In the protest, more than 700 workers at the 150,000 barrel per day refinery, 16 kilometers west of Basra, stopped working, demanding better pay and working conditions.
Mr Mohammed Radhi employee spokesman said that he believed the Oil Minister’s hand had been forced by the deputy PM Mr Hussein al Shahristani in a bid to harass the employees who took part in the protest so that no one else will dare to demonstrate. He said that the strike had lasted for just 2 hours, not 17 as reported by the ministry.
Lawyer Ali Abbadi said that Mr Luaibi’s order lacked any legal justification. In Iraqi administrative procedures misconduct is first responded to with an issued warning then reprimanded before finally being punished. The minister’s decision has jumped the first two steps.