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Iraqi workers take to streets over unpaid wages

9 December, 2014Thousands of Iraqi workers from state-owned companies have been taking to the streets across the country demanding to be paid. Workers want the Ministry of Industry to pay their salaries after going three months without wages.

The protesting workers are employed by state-owned companies that are self-financed. It means their salaries are not guaranteed by the government if the company runs into financial difficulty.

The demonstrators, many of whom are members of IndustriALL Global Union’s trade union affiliates in Iraq, want their salaries to be paid for out of the General Budget and not by the self-funding system.

IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

"We call upon the government of Iraq to respond to the legitimate demands of its workers and immediately pay the delayed salaries. The conversion of state companies into self-financing enterprises is risking workers’ livelihoods and making them vulnerable to company mismanagement.

Workers’ demands include:

  • Conversion of self-financed state companies to the central funding system
  • Reconsidering the law regarding self-financing companies ‫‪
  • Formation of a joint committee from the Council of Ministers and Parliament ‪ to develop appropriate solutions to the obstacles faced by these companies
  • Activation of resolution No. 88 of 2013 by the Council of Ministers, which obliges all state ministries to buy products from the Ministry of Industry and Minerals
  • ‪Implementation of customs tariff laws; protection of national industries; and consumer protection

Hashmeya Muhsin al-Saadawi, president of the General Union of Electricity Workers and Technicians in Iraq, and member of IndustriALL’s Executive Committee, said:

"Iraq is experiencing exceptional circumstances as it faces a fierce war against terrorism, as well as the battle against corruption which is spreading throughout the economy. To overcome such a difficult situation, jobs need to be secured in all sectors and workers protected by fair labour and trade union laws."