No guarantee of rights

Same as last year

Workers' rights violations

Right to free speech and assembly

Throughout 2022 and 2023, workers in government-owned companies in Iraq, including in the mining, electricity, oil and construction sectors, were prevented from demonstrating by the authorities. In the education sector, workers were subjected to police harassment when they held demonstrations.

Right to trade union activities

In Iraq, there is a general prohibition, in place since 1987, against forming and joining trade union organisations in the public sector. The Ministries of Industry and Minerals, of Oil, and of Electricity regularly threatened workers to refer them to the judiciary if they tried to create or join a trade union. They also transferred union members to institutions outside their field of work and outside their area of residence, including the following union leaders of the General Federation of Iraqi Trade Unions working in the companies of the Ministry of Industry and Minerals: Samira Nasser, Sabah Hassan Abdullah Ghaleb Kazem Al-Tamimi, Dhikra Khalil, Faris Mazloum, Abbas Mahmoud Mahdi.

Union activities and meetings were also prohibited within the companies. The collection of union fees was not allowed, and trade unions in the public sector were not allowed to open bank accounts.

Right to trade union activities

Since 2020, all independent unions in Iraq have been 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.

Union busting

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. The directive was still in force in 2023.

Right to collective bargaining

In Iraq, labour legislation did not sufficiently protect the right to collective bargaining. In an overall repressive climate for trade unions, including for the General Federation of Iraq Trade Unions, it was increasingly difficult for workers’ representatives to engage in collective bargaining. Employers seldom respected collective agreements.

Dismissals for participating in strike action

On 6 April 2022, the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity privatised two power stations to the Kar company in Basra governorate: the Shatt Al-Basra gas power station and the Al-Rumaila gas power station. Kar informed the two stations that it did not require the number of workers at each station and that it had to lay off about a quarter of them.

The employees of these two stations rejected the decision and, in collaboration with the electricity sector unions, organised multiple protests, as well as picket lines in front of the two stations. This led to a clash between the protesters and security forces, injuring some workers.

As a result, the Ministry of Electricity terminated the employment contract of one of the protesters, labelling him an instigator of the strikes.

Workers’ rights in law

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