Joint statement for immediate release

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) and the Iraqi Social Forum (ISF)

Baghdad – 9 Aug 2017

[If, after reading the following statement, your organization would like to support Iraqi Unions in their opposition to this draft law, please consider sending a message to the Head of the Iraqi Parliament. See proposal below for how to endorse.]

On Tuesday, 1 August 2017, the Iraqi cabinet approved a new law on social security, despite widespread opposition to many of its provisions by Iraqi trade unions. The unions oppose the draft law because it does not meet international labor standards that exist to ensure that the rights and needs of workers, employees and retirees are protected.

The government ignored comments and objections that came from an important group of Iraqi trade unions, labor unions and civil society organizations. The draft law appears to have been based on advice from the World Bank to the Iraqi government, pressuring it to pass a new social security law, as part of its structural adjustment program, and a pre-condition Iraq’s receiving new loans. The government’s draft law is titled, “Social Security Law”, and today it is on the agenda of the parliament awaiting discussion.

Iraqi unions and organizations called on their international counterparts to send messages of solidarity, and to call on the President of the Iraqi Council of Representatives to return the draft to the government until it is discussed with all relevant stakeholders, including trade unions, labor unions and civil society organizations.

On the 3rd of August 2017, the Conference of Iraqi Federations and Workers Unions [CIFWU] issued a detailed statement explaining the position of its members:

General Federation of Iraqi Trade Unions (GFITU)

Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI)

General Federation of Workers’ Unions in Iraq (GFWUI)

Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU)

Federation of Independent Trade Professional Unions in Iraq (FITPUI)

Professional Engineering Union (PEU)

CIFWUF members agree on the need to work on a new law for social security, and refuse to support the law in its current form, which has been put before parliament without any meaningful dialogue with trade unions, and other stakeholders about its content. The Conference calls on the Iraqi government, represented by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, to hold a meeting with representatives of trade union organizations to initiate this crucial exchange between all those who will be most affected by the new law.

The Conference affirms that the new draft law utterly fails to meet International Labor Organization (ILO) standards, which ensure specific social guarantees for workers, in particular Convention No. 102 and Recommendation No. 202 on Social Protection Floors Recommendation. It also opposes the new draft since it is:

  • Integrating the Pension and Social Security Fund with the National Pension Fund.
  • Increasing the percentage of labor partnerships.
  • Raising the retirement age of workers from 63 to 65 in all work sectors.
  • Not addressing the needs of working women who wish to retire in special cases.
  • Not allowing retired workers to access the privileges due them as approved by Law No. 39 of 1971.
  • Not improving the mechanisms used to calculate pensions, end of service benefits and payment method for workers and employees.

The Conference warned against the danger of passing privatization policies without sufficient research on the likely effects of these policies. Such policies may encourage many employees to retire without sufficient guarantees. The draft law is devoid of social vision, and instead clearly favors a private sector that seeks quick profit at the expense of the productive economic sectors.

According to Conference members, the experience of “reforming” the social protection programs implemented by the former Iraqi government, which were in line with the World Bank’s proposals — including rationalizing subsidies and moving from comprehensive food subsidies to a cash transfer program — has proved, beyond a doubt, that these neoliberal policies are not adequate and that the Iraqi government is unable to deliver decent social protection for the poorest groups in Iraq.

In its statement, the Conference called upon the Government and the Iraqi Council of Representatives to ratify the International Labor Conventions on Social Security, in particular Conventions No. 102, No. 128, No. 121, No. 157, No. 168, No. 183, No. 130, as well as Convention No. 87 on Trade Union Freedoms and Protection of the Right of Association, and Convention No. 129 on Labor Inspection in Agriculture and other related conventions.

Representatives from Iraqi trade unions and civil society organizations affirm their readiness to cooperate and collaborate fully with all concerned bodies and the ILO to adopt a comprehensive social protection law, based on the principle that social security is a fundamental human right, a right that should be guaranteed to all Iraqi people.

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI), an international non-governmental coalition, and the Iraqi Social Forum (ISF), an Iraqi civil society platform with a specialized track for social and economic rights, both express their absolute solidarity with the Iraqi Conference of Iraqi Federations and Workers Unions and Iraqi civil society representatives in their legitimate demands, as set out in their statement. They call upon the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), the European Union Representative in Iraq, and International Labor Organization (ILO) representatives to act immediately to urge the Iraqi government to initiate social dialogue, and to acknowledge that legislation of such importance, that will profoundly impact so many, demands in-depth dialogue with stakeholders, and involvement of their representatives in every stage of legislative writing.

They also call on the Iraqi government to respond to the call from representatives of trade and labor unions, and to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the withdrawal of the current draft law, offering a real opportunity for dialogue.

They send an urgent message to the Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, Mr. Salim al-Jubouri, urging that he return the draft law to the government because it does not meet international standards, and is not the outcome of a genuine dialogue with affected stakeholders.

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For more information contact:

The Iraqi Social Forum (ISF)

Tel:   +964 771187676 

  or visit : http://iraqsf.org

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI)

Tel:       +9647736313516

 or visit: http://www.iraqicivilsociety.org

Email to Head of Iraqi Parliament Supporting Iraqi Unions

TO : labor.committee @ yahoo.com

Dear members of the Labor Committee

Dear Mr. Salim al-Jubouri,

Our organization endorses the statement of the Iraqi Social Forum (ISF) and the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) against the Social Security Draft Law, and urge you to return it to the government, because it does not meet international standards and is not based on genuine dialogue with affected stakeholders.

Best Regards,
(Organization, Country)

Keep our email, icssi.project @ gmail.com , in Cc , so that we can keep a record of the messages and share them with the Iraqi unions