No Labour Laws in Iraq: Employers Pick Workers’ Reps

According to the national arm of the GFIW, it’s is all about ongoing government interference in trade union affairs and harassment of unionists, with a growing emphasis on religious matters – all of which the trade unionists object to.

Historically, attempts to form trade unions in Iraq date back to the beginning of the last century. Under the dictatorial Saddam Hussein, unions lost much ground and in 1987, the Hussein regime came up with Resolution 150 which prohibited public sector workers from organizing themselves into unions or from going on strike. Because Iraq’s economy was almost completely funded by oil incomes, with the government the main paymaster, this legislation was particularly significant – nearly everybody works for the government.

In 2007, a new set of labour laws was drafted but due to a number of significant concerns with it, it has never been ratified. Which means, that, in reality, labour laws still hark back to the 1987 code; it also means that any unions comprised of public employees are – legally speaking – not recognized.

And currently part of the problem comes down to the fact that labour laws in Iraq still remain fairly specious, or at the very least, vague and undefined.

In an update from 2008, the US-based organization, the Solidarity Centre, funded by American trade union groups to assist “workers around the world who are struggling to build democratic and independent trade unions”, reported further on the lack of labour laws in the country.

“In January 2008, the Iraqi government announced its intent to unilaterally impose a union election process in the country. The government cited Governing Council Decree No. 3 of 2004 as a basis for its order. Decree No. 3 attempted to dissolve newly-forming trade union federations in Iraq, and placed the process of establishing new legally sanctioned unions under the auspices of the Iraqi government,” the Solidarity Centre wrote. “In May 2008, the Council of Ministers formed a committee to oversee union elections countrywide.”

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