International Islamic Federation for Work conference provokes opposition

Arabic, 11 July 1999

The International Islamic Federation for Work, chaired by Egyptian trade unionist Jamal al-Banna, completes the works of its two-day general conference today in Geneva, Switzerland.

On top of the conference's agenda was backing Jerusalem.

The International Islamic Federation for Work, which has Geneva as its headquarters, works for coordinating the efforts of trade unions and vocational commissions in the Islamic world, and its constitution opens the door wide for the membership of non-Muslim trade unionists. It is an international, non-governmental organization, established in 1981 on the sidelines of convening the international labor conference.

The convening of the conference provoked the anger of several Arab and international trade unions. It was opposed by the federation of the Arab Workers Union under the pretext that such a conference would split Arab trade unions.

It was also opposed by the International Federation for Free Trade Unions which has historically had been in opposition to the World Labor Federation, which used to have Prague as its headquarters and has as members Asian and African trade unions.

The International Federation for Free Trade Unions has fears that the Islamic federation will repeat the experience of the World Labor Federation which has been supported by the former Soviet Union and as a result to take from it the memberships of Asia and African workers trade union.

All these opposition on the International Labor Organization in Geneva, resulted in giving up any backing for the Islamic Federation Conference. At the conclusion of its deliberations today, the conference will elect a new chairman for the federation, an executive secretary general and seven deputies for the president.

The conference was attended by trade unionists and vocational and trade union organizations from Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Argentina, Surinam, Iran, the USA, Britain and Canada. From the Arab states, the conference was attended by trade unions in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan.