Six Iraqi trade unions affiliated with the Unions Conference gathered in a meeting held on Thursday, March 16. The unions focused in their discussions on the Social Security Law and the Freedoms of Association Law, as well as the issue of Iraq’s accession to the International Labor Convention No. 87 of 1948. The unions stated that they continue to review and study the draft of the Social Security Law and they set 22 of April as a date to hold a session for the trade unions to consolidate observations.

As for the draft of Freedom of Association Law, the unions were very surprised by the response of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs on the draft, in which the ministry insisted to prohibit trade union organization in the public sector and adhered to the articles that violates the international standards in the Trade Union Law No. 52 of 1987 issued by the former Ba’athist regime to control workers and trade union movements.

The participants of the trade unions said that the Freedom of Association draft law has been drafted by all Iraqi trade unions and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Labor Committee of the Iraqi Council of Representatives in the presence and advice of experts from the Committee on Freedom of Association in the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the High Commission for Human Rights. The draft law was officially presented to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association for review and demonstrates compliance with the international standards. The ILO formally stated that the draft had fulfilled all standards relating to trade union rights and freedoms.

Unions have also reviewed the stages of Iraq’s accession to the International Labor Convention No. 87 of 1948, approved by the Iraqi Council of Ministers in its resolution No. 309 of 2016. The participants stated that the Committee of Civil Society Organizations in the Iraqi Council of Representatives postponed the resumption of the second reading and voting process to an unknown notice in order to study the convention. Although the tripartite dialogue parties, the State Consultative Council and the Iraqi Council of Ministers have agreed on the ratification of the convention. Unions consider that the matter of the convention lies at the heart of the Parliamentary Labor Committee’s work, since trade union freedoms are one of the four pillars of the International Labor Standards of 1998, as well as the fact that unions are not civil society organizations and are not subject to the law of civil society organizations No. 10 of 2012, thus the Parliamentary Labor Committee has sufficient experience in this subject.

According to the Ministry of Labor’s response to the exception of employees from the draft of Freedom of Association Law and its adherence to the articles of the notorious Law No. 52 which violates the International standards, and bringing another draft that is completely contrary to International standards, and because of the disruption of accession to the International Labor Convention No. 87 of 1948. The Iraqi Workers Unions and Trade Unions affiliated with the Unions Conference have decided to file a formal complaint to the Committee on Freedom of Association of the International Labor Organization in the coming days. The Unions havn’t submitted a complaint during the past years, despite the restrictions on trade union freedoms and adherence to the decisions of Saddam Hussein’s regime against freedoms of association, especially in the public sector. However, trade unions will not agree again to the confiscation of these freedoms in any way.

Picture of a meeting between the Iraqi Unions, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Parliamentary Labor Committee, the High Commission for Human Rights and experts from the Committee on Freedom of Association in the International Labor Organization and experts from several international organizations during the writing and review of the Freedom of Association draft law.