The new Iraqi labour law, a law for a new slavery

We received this request for international protests against the new labour Law being introduced in Iraq under the pressure of the IMF. It is clearly against the interests of workers in Iraq and openly defends the right of capitalists to brutally exploit the workers.

“Dear Sister and Brothers in working class organizations around the World,

“We are sending out this report by Falah Alwan, president of the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq, concerning the new labour law in Iraq. We are calling on all trade unions and leaders around the world to support our struggle against it. Please speak out loudly to stand with us in solidarity. Send your letter to the government of Iraq to respect workers’ rights now. Send us copies of your letters please as we want to publish them among the workers in Iraq. Your support is very important to us always.

“Hand to hand and shoulder to shoulder in working class struggle for freedom and Equality.

“Akram Nadir,

Union Organizer in Iraq and Kurdistan and International Representative of Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI).”

[email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.fwcui.org]

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More than one hundred serious notes and objections, to the 156 articles which are the components of the draft of the new labour law, were set out. Such issue means that it is an objectionable draft. And these objections are undermining it.

Since 2004 there have been five drafts of the new labour law in Iraq, none of them were presented publicly or to the workers' unions. The Ministry of Labour, coordinating with the government controlled trade union federation, composed the latest draft of the labour law surreptitiously in a conspiratorial manner. The other unions in Iraq received copies of the latest draft, via the Solidarity Centre, only one year ago.

The recent draft of the labour law is not merely the result of a normal development of the economic necessities, or a kind of cure to the economic crisis. It is the direct result of the IMF policies which have been imposed by the US occupation in collaboration with their loyal government, so the struggle against it is part of the struggle against the occupation policies and the neo-liberal agenda.

The spirit of the draft is to legitimize the capitalist interests, and to defend them within an officially authorized framework. The notes are so numerous, that we cannot list them all in detail; here we focus only on the main key points.

The new labour law confirms the laws of the former regime, which consider the workers in the public sector as officials, depriving them of the most basic rights and guarantees, denying them the right to organize and the right to strike.

Most of the articles of the new labour law are to guarantee the interests of the capitalists. More than one article gives the full right to the capitalists to lay off workers for no reason. The dismissals of the workers are up to the owners of the factories or the projects.

In 2004 the Iraqi government had accepted the 6 demands of the IMF as conditions for a compulsory loan of about US$436million. All those conditions are undoubtedly expressions of the neo-liberal policies.

The new labour law reflects clearly and overtly the class interests of the capitalists before the workers' interests. It gives legitimacy to exploitation, while justifying the greed of the capitalists. In a word, the new labour law is a framework within which to intensify and justify the exploitation and the suppression of the workers and to enable the neo-liberal model to control the economy in Iraq.

The preamble of the draft is to facilitate the investment conditions for the capitalists. There is no real confirmation of the rights to strike, to sit-in, to assemble or to demonstrate. There are no guarantees for the workers' rights, such as,
1. Protection against dismissal,
2. Assurances against unemployment,
3. The safety insurance and benefits to the workers.

Finally, we realise it is impossible to end exploitation or to acquire full rights of the working class by simply changing or reforming the labour law. In addition, the implementing of the new labour law will not change the system of property relations or implement a new social state, i.e. socialism.

Actually, our criticism of the new labour law is aimed at implementing many reforms, such as; the right to strike, the right to sit in, unemployment insurance and the full right to organize and join unions, in a word, to strengthen the ability of the working class to struggle against the exploiters, and the whole of capitalism.

Falah Alwan

November 2012