Iraq - Contract Labour (2012)

Some 40% of the contracted labour in Iraq is service personnel, mainly from South Asia and Africa. In June, a media report was issued detailing the poor labour conditions of the over 70,000 “third-country nationals” working for the American military in war zones, employed by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). Many had arrived under false promises and the majority lacked work permits. Many reported being robbed of wages, injured without compensation, subjected to sexual assault, and held in conditions resembling indentured servitude by their subcontractor bosses. Contracts were sub contracted from the US military down to small un-supervised contractors who often procured workers from impoverished countries under conditions amounting to trafficking. Many workers had paid several thousand dollars despite US regulations against the charging of fees and many had contracts stipulating 12 hour days for 7 days a week. Workers who complained were threatened with sacking and denial of return flights home. Several groups of these workers had also been taken hostage and murdered.

In June, it was reported that 30 Sri Lankan construction workers in southern Iraq went on a five-day hunger strike to obtain unpaid wages claiming they had not been paid for the past two years. The move came after threatened suicide. The workers said they were each promised 2,000 dollars per month to work for the Talat Osam al-Deen construction firm, on a government housing project. They said they had not received a single salary payment and the company owners had fled. The Iraqi government intervened, paying the workers 3,000 dollars each and flew them home.

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