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Iraq: protest at Basra Gas Company/Shell over non-payment of salaries

20 May, 2020Workers at Basra Gas Company, a joint venture where Shell holds a major stake, launched a protest on 18 May over the company’s failure to pay salaries. Around 5,000 workers seconded from South Gas Company (SGC) to Basra Gas Company (BGC) have yet to receive their salaries.

Despite being faced with mass demonstrations in many places of the country, road closures and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, workers have continued to provide liquified natural gas for Iraq’s electricity and petrochemical plants.

But at the end of every month, the seconded workers remain uncertain as to when they will receive their salaries due to SGC and BGC issues around the payment.

The workers have repeatedly asked BGC to find a way to make sure salaries are paid regularly and on time, but as the end of May approached with no change in sight, workers launched a protest at the site of operation.

Hassan Juma, president of Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, says that the workers should not have to pay the price of any financial problems between SGC and BGC:

"The two companies must resolve matters between themselves, as the workers are not implicated in the administrative and contractual frameworks. Since the affected workers were seconded from the SGC, their salaries and allocations are settled by BGC."

After the protest, union leaders and representatives of the protesting workers addressed the management of the company, urging them to expedite the payment of salaries.

Kemal Özkan IndustriALL assistant general secretary, says:

“The workers’ efforts to maintain essential production during the pandemic should be appreciated. But Shell in Iraq are forcing workers to protest and take further risks to demand what is owed them. It is unacceptable and the workers’ wages must be paid immediately.”

Basra Gas Company is a joint venture where South Gas Company holds 51 per cent and Shell 44 per cent. The remaining 5 per cent are held by Mitsubishi Corporation.