Following a peaceful demonstration by the oil and gas workers in Dhi Qar, Iraq, on 14 February 2022, Ahmad Ali Al-Zaidi, a trade unionist and employee at an oil facility, was assassinated in retaliation for his activism during the demonstrations. Over the past year, strikes in oil and electricity sectors were systematically disrupted by security forces. Workers and trade union leaders have been repeatedly subjected to internal investigation procedures and disciplinary measures for their legitimate trade unions activities. In some cases, they have been transferred to other companies or other positions and threatened with legal penalties.
Violent attacks on workers
On 14 February 2022, Muhammad Al-Saidi, a member of the General Federation of Trade Unions of Workers in Iraq and a member of the General Union of Workers in the Oil and Gas Sector, was severely beaten during a peaceful demonstration in Dhi Qar, and several workers were unlawfully detained. Over the past year, strikes in oil and electricity sectors were systematically disrupted by security forces. Workers and trade union leaders have been repeatedly subjected to internal investigation procedures and disciplinary measures for their legitimate trade union activities. In some cases, they have been transferred to other companies or other positions and threatened with legal penalties.
Right to free speech and assembly
Samira Nasser and Sabah Hassan, two members of the executive office of the General Federation of Iraq Trade Unions (GFITU) and employed in public sector companies, were accused of defamation for Facebook posts and were subsequently referred for administrative investigation on “malicious charges”. Both were demoted and transferred to other public companies. Samira Nasser, who worked as an agricultural engineer in a dairy factory, was transferred to the hydraulic industries company. GFITU organised a solidarity campaign and managed to have the transfer reversed after more than two months.
Right to trade union activities
Since 2020, all independent unions in Iraq are unable to operate. On 12 October 2020, the Iraqi Ministry of Labour published letter No. 11367 imposing a trade union monopoly in Iraq and instructing government administrative bodies not to deal with any union other than the officially recognised General Federation of Iraqi Workers.
On 11 July 2021, the Ministry of Electricity in Iraq issued a directive banning trade union committees and instructing employees in public-owned companies not to engage in such committees under penalty of criminal prosecution. In addition, the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals issued disciplinary warnings against two union leaders in retaliation for their unionising efforts.
Prosecution of union leaders for participating in strikes
On 14 February 2022, people in the Karma Bani Saeed district, Iraq, demonstrated in front of the governorate building, demanding the provision of health services. Police forces dispersed the protest, using excessive force and leaving several demonstrators with severe injuries. The negotiating delegation was arrested, including trade unionist Muhannad Al-Saeedi, a member of the Dhi Qar Oil Company workers union and a member of the General Union of Oil and Gas Workers in Iraq of the General Federation of Trade Unions.