The forums of Fallujah, Najaf, and Maysan, within the space of the Iraqi Social Forum, organized a dialogue session on the reality of the Iraqi Labor Laws, on Tuesday, 14th of September, 2021 via Zoom application. In which, three activists in the field of labor laws were hosted, and were 24 female and male activists and academics from across the cities of Iraq participated.
The session was facilitated by the colleague Ali Al-Aboodi from the Najaf Social Forum. He welcomed the participants in this session, then he introduced the campaign shared by all of the Iraqi Social Forums across Iraq; which aims at defining the labor law through a series of dialogue sessions, discussions, and debates between activists and trade unionists, as well as a group of workers, who are the direct beneficiaries of the law. In addition, the campaign is set to promote labor law and its positive impact, also the opportunities provided by the law that the working class can benefit from, and its sustainability in organizing itself and improving its conditions in addition to enhancing its legal awareness.
The activist in the field of economic and social rights Mustafa Qusay presented his intervention regarding the law in a legal aspect; he explained that Labor Law No. (37) for 2015, is considered one of the best laws that dealt with the situation of workers in Iraq and it is a foundation on which the conditions of workers can be improved, however, the implementation of the law is facing a number of obstacles and challenges, including those related to the subjective circumstances of the workers such as the lake of awareness of the law among workers in addition to the absence of self-organization among the workers in a clear way and this will affect them negatively on improving and raising awareness about the law and its implementation in a way that secures all the rights of the workers. He also explained that the law in spite of some of the negative indicators pointed out on the law, however, the law in all of its articles stands side by side with the rights of the workers and their benefit. The law in the end tackles the workers in private sectors and did not address the issues in the public sectors and the merged sectors, and that’s one of the most important indicators of the law. However, what is required is to enhance awareness efforts for workers in the organized and unorganized sectors of work and improve their awareness of the law in order to achieve the best possible benefit.
As for the activist Firas Samar, he explained the nature of the roles played by unions and federations towards benefiting from the Iraqi labor law by targeting and empowering workers in the private and unorganized sectors of work, in addition to improving their legal awareness to address their conditions guaranteed by law, and also that the multiplicity of unions and federations poses a challenge for the opportunities to organize workers in unions. Due to the fact that unions, in addition to their multiple roles, are a difficult party in the equation and have great responsibilities, especially those related to the fairness of work and the formation of a weak force towards achieving their demands and improving their conditions, which were clear and explicit in the law.
Activist Falah Hassan from the Peace Forum in Mosul also explained the nature of the roles played by civil society organizations, especially those that aim at social and economic development and focus their work on the working group by building programs aimed at empowering workers and awareness programs that work to educate workers and encourage them to join unions and federations, in addition to improving the practical and organizational capabilities of unions and federations themselves towards activating their roles in a way that ensures that they attract workers and better organize them. He added that the workers’ lack of awareness of their legal rights makes organizations, unions, and federations incentivize them to activate dialogues in a way that ensures increased awareness of labor rights and the law and makes full use of it.
It is worth mentioning that the session comes as part of a series of activities and events organized by local social forums in 12 Iraqi cities within the space of the Iraqi Social Forum, with the support of the Caribou Foundation and the Solidarity Initiative with Iraqi Civil Society towards increasing awareness of the labor law.