Iraq's Illegal Employment Agencies

By Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Zaher Moussa, a producer at the Iraqi Beladi TV channel in Baghdad, has tried to contact employment agencies placing Asian workers in Iraq to interview them about the way they bring foreign labor into the country.

He got the agencies’ phone numbers from a website for foreign labor employment and social networking sites, but they refused to talk to him.

“Most of the agencies are not registered with the Iraqi government," Moussa told Al-Monitor. "They bring foreign workers into the country illegally.”

Moussa has also found out that the agencies’ addresses are incorrect, and most only operate over the phone, sending the Asian workers to the companies and shops that want to employ them.

Asian workers are brought exclusively through these illegal agencies, which are widespread in Iraq, before they are hired by other businesses.

In Baghdad, Bangladeshi and Indian workers can be found working in various businesses. They are employed in restaurants and cafeterias, as they receive lower wages and work long hours without complaining.

Ala Alwan owns the Rida Alwan cafe in Baghdad, which is a meeting place for Iraqi intellectuals, where three Bangladeshi workers are illegally employed.

Alwan told Al-Monitor, “These workers work without complaining and they accept reasonable wages.” The Bangladeshi workers are paid $400 per month, while Iraqis get $600.

Alwan has previously hired Iraqi workers, “but they complained about the long work hours and are slow in meeting customer orders,” he said.

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