Iraq - No negotiation as oil bosses ignore workers’ pay protests

Protests by over 200 engineers, technical staff, and other workers at Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company (NOC) in Kirkuk were simply ignored by NOC bosses. The workers were complaining that their salaries were being paid in old, ripped and unusable notes, and that they had not been paid their bonuses from 2013. When they staged a protest however, nobody came to speak to them, and they knew a strike could easily cost them their jobs.

Public sector workers do not have organising or collective bargaining rights under Iraqi labour law and so there was no obligation for the bosses to negotiate with them, and no deadline for finding a settlement. The situation improved for some in February 2016 when the new labour law came into force, extending organising and bargaining rights to public sector workers outside the civil service, but the new law still denies basic trade union rights to millions of blue-collar public sector workers, including those employed by the state in the oil and gas, port and railway, public road transportation and communication industries and state municipalities.

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