Iraq is in need of legislation that provides real social security guarantees for workers and employees. The Iraqi government is currently drafting a new social security law without proper consultation of civil society. To discuss the adoption of such law, trade unions, teachers and social security experts gathered in a seminar organized by the Iraqi Social Forum and Solidarity Center, attended by representatives from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Parliamentary Committee for Civil Society Organizations and for Labor and Social Affairs.

Wissam Chasib Awda, director of Iraq Program in Solidarity Center, stressed the importance of having this seminar which provides the opportunity for discussion prior to legislation of a new law on social security, involving unions and civil society organizations. Awda explained that it is necessary that parliament presents any draft law on social security to legal experts and trade unions, in order to ensure that the legislation will provide considerable guarantees for workers and employees – more than currently. In addition, the Iraqi Social Forum will provide a platform to advocate for economic and social rights for workers, particularly on this issue, said ISF secretary Ali Sahib.

Mr. Basim Shinan, legal adviser for the Pension and Social Security Department in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, provided an overview of the legislative process for the social security law, followed by a frank and open discussion between unions and governmental/parliamentary representatives. The unions pointed out that the current draft still contains fundamental gaps: in particular integration of pension funds for workers with public pension funds, increase of retirement age from 63 to 65 years, retirement of female workers, calculation methods for pension benefits, discontinuation of pension benefits. Civil society disagrees on these measures and would like to see amendments to the current draft law. Trade unions and teachers expressed their concern for the involvement of the World Bank, which allegedly requires Iraq to adopt measures that are disadvantageous for workers.

They requested the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Parliamentary Committees not to rush the legislation of the draft law, instead giving civil society and legal exerts the opportunity to review and share it with as many workers as possible in the whole of Iraq in order for them to voice their concerns.

Furthermore, there is the option for civil society to request an official consultation from the International Labor Office in Geneva to study the compatibility of the social security draft law with international labor standards, which were ratified by Iraq in the ILO Convention No. 102 on the minimum standards for social security in 1952. In any case, unions have the experience of having successfully advocated for the adoption of labor legislation law no. 37 in 2015. Now, unions will focus on the issue of social security law and follow-up on this seminar.

This seminar was organized by the Iraqi Social Forum and Solidarity Center in cooperation with Iraqi Council for Peace and Solidarity, Un Ponte Per, and the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative