The Reality of workers’ and employees’ Rights in Iraq
The second annual report On the occasion of the first of May for the national workers’ Day 2022
In the light of the economic circumstances Iraq is suffering from – due to the absence of a clear economic vision, rampant corruption and the significant influence on the lives of workers through the great increase in the numbers of unemployed despite the mend in oil prices – the Iraqi workers are still suffering from severe living conditions. Despite seven months passing since the parliament elections procedures, a new government has not been formed yet. The Iraqi observatory workers’ and employees’ rights hence saw the release of the second annual report on the occasion of the first of May for the national workers’ Day.
through what the media recorded and the reports of the syndicates’ unions and the observatory team spread through the states to shed light on some of the violations that occurred from (May/ 2021) to (30th of April 2022) we summarize it as follows:-
1- The Governmental institutions are continuing to violate the unions’ rights and freedoms
A- General Secretariat of Council of Ministers released an administrative order numbered (A/D/M/3/1/23 21659) date (11/08/2021) for the establishment of (syndicates and union affairs follow up) department. This department manages to prepare a database with the names of these syndicates, its laws, and election protocols and display its board names on the national authority for accountability and justice. Based on this order, the Iraqi syndicates and union held a meeting at the headquarters of the Iraqi law syndicate. The meeting discussed the order of the Council of Ministers which is against the Iraqi constitution, laws, and international agreements. Hence, the gathered parties decided to send a document to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers declaring their refusal of the order placed upon them and ensuring their legal rights to stand against such violations. The association of Iraqi workers’ unions and syndicates which consists of seven unions assured their refusal of such order and their intention to take all legal procedures to minimize the interference of the government in the syndicates’ work, while the national gathering for syndicates and unions in Basra assured their rejection of such order which is considered a dangerous interference in union matters and asked the General Secretariat of Council of Ministers to reconsider this order and to revoke it.
B- The Ministry of electricity released document numbered 34684 dating 11/08/2021 under the subject Guidance indicating in their previous documents, document no.9478 dated 09/03/2021, and document no.29455 dated 07/09/2020 which foresees the removal of all coordinating commissions and syndicates existing within firms, institutes, and their branches, threatening workers in such institutions with legal actions in the case of being a member of such syndicates. The association of Iraqi unions and working syndicates states that the ministry’s interference in syndicate affairs is a violation of the Iraqi constitution and agreement n.87 of trade union freedoms approved by Iraq according to law number 87 of 2017 and that such actions implemented by some irresponsible institutions jeopardize Iraq’s reputation in the light of Iraq moving towards strengthening its relations with the international community.
C- Mesan’s oil company released a document numbered (872) dating (30/03/2022) based upon the finding of the inquiry commission founded inside the national oil company, sanctioning disciplinary notice to a group of syndicates and employees because of the unlicensed protesting according to the document mentioned above. After the protest took place in Mesan’s oil company demanding their rights, foremost land registrations, while the association of Iraqi unions and working syndicates mentioned in a statement their strong disapproval of the cover-up policy and seek of sanctions to silence the workers and terrorize them.
D- Ministry of Industry and Mines held a release to all general Associated Formations to indicate the dealing with the general union for workers syndicates in Iraq based exclusively upon the syndicates regulation law 52 for the year 1987 and old documents issued by the ministry of work and social affairs before Iraq joined the syndicates’ liberal agreement number 87 the year 1948, hence the ministry has violated law number 87 the year 2017 for the right and freedom of syndicates organizations, which is a dangerous signal for the continuous violation of the liberties of syndicates in Iraq.
2- protests due to the delay in the payroll of employees
Over the past year, the observatory recorded more than 170 protests and demonstrations, because of the delay in employees’ salaries, contract payments, and daily workers in the cities of Iraq, including Kurdistan in which a group of protesters was arrested. the teacher Badel Berwari has been arrested 252 days ago for instigation of protests demanding salary payments, two suicide cases were recorded in Baghdad and Diyala because of the delay. despite most of the employees’ salaries having been paid, a period of 15 days of delay from its original due date is still registered, while the salaries of contractors have not yet been paid. The daily workers in the ministry of electricity and the 30 thousand job positions in Basra for more than eight months, also the general budget approved granting workers who volunteered as teachers for the ministry of education monthly salaries no more than 250 Iraqi Dinar, which does not correlate with minimum wadge in Iraq. The parliament also approved raising the dollar rate, consequently leading to the rise in food and staples.
3- protests demanding job opportunities and permanent hire
250 recorded protests and demonstrations demanding job opportunities and permanent hire, mostly for postgraduate degree holders and engineers, noting that the general budget approved hiring those who possess service in the form of contracts in government institutions for a minimum of five years.
4- Retired personnel in the ministry of education in Basra and the company for general petrochemicals are with no salaries
Despite more than seven months passing, the retired personnel of Basra Education and petrochemicals are without any paperwork retirement procedures nor their institutions repaying the retirement fee to the employees themselves without any regard to those people nor the long service they spend in their institutes. A group of retirees spoke about their suffering for not getting the retirement salaries for this long time, also the retirees called for the institutions to work together since it is not their responsibility to wait for this long time.
5- Work injuries
(1745) injury in addition to (10) death incidence for the period of (march/ 2021) to (30th of April 2022) recorded in both the private and general sectors according to reports from the national health centers, professional safety, and hospitals emergency rooms in Iraq.
6- Health, safety, and professional centers conduct medical checks for their workers
The health, safety, and professional centers conducted medical tests for their workers all around Iraq. According to the monthly statistics provided by them regarding the checkups for their workers in the private sectors for the past period, the sum of the medical tests was (6012).
1- Five years have passed since the approval of agreement number 87 in Iraq, regarding the syndicate’s liberties, according to law numbered 87 for the year 2017, but despite it, the law has not yet been legislated for syndicates organizations of workers and employees in Iraq., Therefore, we recommend the necessity of speeding the legislation of the law appropriate to the international standards
2- We confirm for the second year consecutively the necessity for the ministry of work and social affairs to cooperate with all the unions and syndicates, in coherence with what they always indicate in their documents, and the necessity to involve these unions in their committees and in the law drafting process – especially on retirement and social security of workers – and to listen to their opinions and recommendations on the matters and we invite the Ministries not to deal only with one union, now that multiple unions have become a reality.
3- Necessity for the ministries, states, and governmental authorities not to interfere in the syndicate’s affairs, and for all correspondence to be united through one relevant authority, such as the ministry of work and social affairs.
4- Necessity of a larger role for work inspectors for following up on workers’ registration in social security.
5- Necessity to speed up the release of instructions regarding law implementation and its follow-up.
6- Necessity for work institutions to coordinate with health institutions in the states by releasing and publishing their monthly reports regarding deaths and injuries
7- We emphasize the necessity to coordinate between unions and working syndicates in the Iraqi arena and to minimize divisions, including mutual work for the benefit of the workers and for syndicates and unions to take a larger role in defending the rights of workers while maintaining the spirit of the law and respecting one another.
Iraqi observatory for workers and employees’ rights (Brief Summary)
Since the establishment of the Iraqi observatory for workers’ and employees’ rights in early 2020 by a group of syndicate activists, civil society activists, and defenders who believe in syndicate liberties and social justice, what the workers and employees endure from injustice and violations by the hand of government and employers, also for what the political and union circumstances due to the lack of just laws that would protect workers and their syndicates which led to the regression of liberal syndicates. The observatory aims to observe, document, evaluate workers’ and employees’ rights, and create reports, studies and present them to interested parties regarding their findings, accompanied by suggestions and recommendations aiming to reinforce workers’ rights and syndicate’s liberties in the republic of Iraq in addition to providing moral and physiological support through providing counsel and studies to provide an appropriate working environment. It aims also to enforce democratic concepts by building peace to ensure the rights of these marginalized groups- The observatory does not consider itself to be a replacement for governmental institutes but a partner, since its members are part of society that inspires its sense of nationality and feeling of responsibility in growing society and maintaining it’s earnings and rights to determine the issues and place working solutions through the reports, hence deliver it to relevant parties as the observatory ensures positive approaches and non-violent methods of expressing opinions, condemning violations and demanding rights and non-violence and trespassing public and private properties ensuring the growth of social peace which is a necessary factor for an improved society