By ICSSI Secretariat – September 2017
On 9th of September, the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum held a seminar in Baghdad to discuss the draft law of social insurance in Iraq, recently submitted to parliament and currently still under discussion. The seminar revealed two distinct responses to the draft law: there is the positive view of the government, which contrasts with the more skeptical reaction to the draft law held by trade unions.
The seminar opened with a speech from the legal expert, Mr. Tariq Harb, in which he highlighted the opinion of the draft law held by the Council of Ministers. The aim of the legislation, he said, is equality among all segments of Iraqi society, and the abolition of special laws which grant privileges to a select few at the expense of vulnerable groups.
Member of the Executive Office of the General Federation of Trade Unions of Iraq, Mr. Adnan Al-Saffar, explained the opposing view, which sees the draft law not as a guarantee of equal treatment, but as a cause for concern. The draft law, he stated, is limited and does not achieve its intended aims, and thus ILO experts stand against this law in its current form. Unions refuse to merge the pension fund and the social security of workers with the National Pension Fund because the objectives of each are contradictory in terms of direction, commitment and sources of funding. Al-Saffar indicated that the adoption of the law will deprive retired workers of their due privileges already approved by the Law of Retirement and Social Security of Workers (No. 39, 1971). He was explicit in his assessment that it would be a mistake to approve this law, and that in addition to pensioners, it would also harm working women by denying them of a number of rights, including the right to retire at the age of 55.
Ali Al-Haidery, an advisor in parliament, reminded people that that the draft law is in the process of amendment, and that it is thus still in its early stages. The primary aim of the draft law, he claimed, is to save the pension fund because it is now on the brink of bankruptcy. At the same time, the draft law would require equal pension for all Iraqi people, no matter what kind of employment they had.
The seminar included open discussions on the pros and cons of the draft law. Mr. Wissam Chasib pointed out that, in its present form, the draft law has several legal problems, including the fact that the legal age to start work in Iraq is 15 years, yet the law would raise that age to 18 in some areas.
The seminar concluded with an agreement among participants on the importance of using community pressure to abolish laws that grant special privileges to an elite few at the expense of other Iraqi employees and citizens, such as the Law of Rafha (in theory, aimed at the fair compensation of political prisoners, yet in practice, a drain on the national budget and a deep source of resentment).
This seminar was put on by the Shahrazad Project in cooperation with the Italian Organization, Un Ponte Per… and the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative, with funding from the Federal Republic of Germany and the FAI Foundation.