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Determined struggle brings Iraqi workers new labour law

26 August, 2015A ten-year national and international campaign has resulted in the enactment of a new labour code in Iraq.

On 17 August the Iraqi parliament passed a new labour law allowing the right to strike and collective bargaining, prohibiting child labour, discrimination and sexual harassment. It also includes improvements on maternity and pregnancy leave, and addresses rights of sub-contractors and migrant workers without discrimination.

Iraq’s new law covers workers in the private, mixed and cooperative sectors, but excludes workers covered by civil service law and the armed forces.

Workers in Iraq have suffered severe violations and hard working conditions due to the lack of fair labour and union laws in line with international standards. For the last decade, IndustriALL Global Union has relentlessly campaigned for the fundamental rights of Iraqi workers to enjoy fair and modern labour, as well as trade union laws in line with ILO standards and conventions.

Hassan Juma, president of IndustriALL affiliate Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions says:

Unions contributions were valuable during the drafting process. Over the time unions were able to elaborate and come up with substantial amendments to the final drafts of the law.

Hashmeya  Al-Sadawe, president of Basra Electricity Workers’ Union and member of IndustriALL’s Executive Committee says:

IndustriALL and global union solidarity was crucial for the adoption of a modern labour law corresponding to ILO conventions.

However, the ban on unions in the public sector will continue until the enactment of the trade union law. We urge the Iraqi government to sign and ratify ILO Convention 87, which is now in the Iraqi parliament for ratification. This will in turn pave the way for the adoption of the trade union law.

Final voting on the law was preceded by a two-day session where Iraqi union leaders, Ministry of Labour, the Labour Committee of the Iraqi Parliament, AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, IndustriALL Global Union and leaders of its Iraqi affiliates discussed the latest version and amendments of the draft.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, congratulates the Iraqi workers, unions and their leaders for their determination and insistence, which was crucial to win the long struggle:

We look forward to see real improvements of the new law on the ground with concrete results contributing to better working and living conditions for Iraqi workers. We strongly urge the authorities to take similar measures and accelerate a trade union law recognizing union pluralism and applicable for all Iraqi workers, including the public sector.

The international campaign has received support from the International Labor Organization (ILO), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and sister global unions, AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, as well as a number of national trade union centres and national and international non-governmental organizations.