Iraqi workers protest at non payment of wages. Photo: IndustriALL
Iraqi unions are still demanding better
Despite the impact of the ISIS insurgency, workers across Iraq staged several industrial actions from the end of October, through November and into the first part of December, and returned to the streets on 30 December.
The GFITU and the national technical sector of the Iraqi teachers union held separate industrial action in Baghdad demanding similar provisions: support for Iraqis displaced by the conflict, improvements to working and living conditions, and the repayment of delayed salaries.
Iraq is facing a real financial crisis due to ISIS control of some oil wells, the drop in oil prices in the international market and severe disagreements between federal and regional governments of Iraq over oil revenue, although the latter, it seems now, has been resolved.
Organised workers employed by the Ministry of Industry have been taking action in Baghdad and across Iraq since November 2014 demanding payment of their delayed salaries (3 months).
They are also calling on the Ministry to alter its current practice and pay their salaries from the Ministry budget rather than by a self-funding system which proved to be unreliable.
Monday 1st December saw several industrial actions across many cities in Iraq.
The leadership of the GFITU and its affiliated unions joined the industrial action and provided political and media support. The GFITU called on Ministers and MPs to demonstrate solidarity as workers were asking only to be paid in time in order to provide for their needy families.
Several prominent MPs and members of the Labour and Social Affairs Parliamentary commissions voiced their support for workers’ legitimate demands. And other national trade union centres provided similar support telling the government to come up with a real solution to workers’ plights.
Protestors and the GFITU leadership called for reforming of the labour law in order to legally allow trade union pluralism and public sector workers the right to trade union representation.
Protestors across Iraq conducted their grievances in a civil and peaceful manner. They received protection from security forces except for one incident in Basra were the local authority threatened protestors with dismissal if they did not abandon their industrial action.