Iraq - Interference in trade union affairs (2012)

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, governments have failed to put in place a legal and regulatory framework for overseeing trade union activities and continues to use repressive Saddam era regulations which effectively ban independent trade unions.

In 2010, the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, had hinted that Article 150, a law dating back to the 1980s banning public sector workers from joining a union, would be repealed once the country’s electoral stalemate had been resolved. But the new government has instead placed further restrictions on union membership.

On 17 April, the Iraqi Cabinet issued two decrees withdrawing its recognition of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW) and its member trade unions, and instead appointed an unelected “Ministerial Preparatory Committee (MPC)” to take over all union structures and assets and oversee the upcoming trade union elections. These elections exclude public sector workers. The authorities also issued a ruling stating they would select the workers candidate to the ILO Conference in June in contradiction with the ILO constitution which requires member states to select a worker delegate in consultation with unions. After international pressure the Minister of Labour backed down on this plan.

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