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Iraq: unions demand legal rights over ratification of ILO C87

4 November, 2016The adoption of a new labour law in Iraq last year has created more space for IndustriALL and its Iraqi affiliates to deepen the programme of work and campaign for legislation that meets international standards.

On 25 October this year, the government of Iraq approved ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, referring it to parliament for ratification. This comes after the adoption of an important new labour law last year.
This provides a promising environment for parliament to discuss an improved trade union law in the near future. Representatives of the IndustriALL Global Union Iraqi national council have drafted a trade union law that recognizes union pluralism and representative, democratic and free unions. The draft law was submitted to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in early October.
IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said that full recognition of union freedom of association is an integral part of a successful transition towards a stable and more democratic Iraq:

“Despite all the difficulties unions face, our work will always supplement the efforts of the brave Iraqi veterans for a trade union law compatible with the international standards.” 

The IndustriALL Iraqi national council met in Amman, Jordan, on 30 August to develop its programme, in light of the challenges for workers and their organizations in the country. The meeting concluded with an action plan that prioritizes building the strength of the affiliates, continuing the campaign for the adoption of a new trade union law, and raising awareness of the labour law adopted last year.
Hassan Juma, president of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, said:

“There are tremendous political, economic and security problems in Iraq. Our brothers of the Iraqi army are now at the front to free Mosul from the hands of ISIS.
“We are taking our positions too, and are working closely with union leaders for a fairer and free Iraq – we are on the right track.”

As part of the ongoing campaign, IndustriALL organized a series of workshops in Basra, Baghdad and Erbil in September and October. All of them saw a large participation of youth and women, as well as local union leaders.
The workshops addressed the new labour law and how unions and workers can make best use of it, as well as collective bargaining, wages, and protecting working women.
Hashmeya Alsaadawi, president of the General Union of Electricity Workers and Technicians in Basra and co-chair of the IndustriALL MENA region says:

“Our dream of enacting a modern trade union law can be achieved by joining forces and expanding workers’ participation and awareness, including both women and youth.
“Recent activities involving and reaching workers and unionists reflect the serious engagement of the leaders and is the foundation for achieving our goal.”