Promoting Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work in Iraq

Parliamentary Labour Committee, tripartite constituents review draft trade union law for Iraq, with ILO technical support

The draft law includes provisions that will protect and promote the rights and freedom of trade union organizations in Iraq, in line with International Labour Standards.

Article | 19 September 2023
Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (ILO News) The ILO held a two-day technical workshop in Erbil on September 14-15 with its tripartite constituents - the government represented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, as well as employer, and worker representatives - and the Parliamentary Labour and Civil Society Organizations Committee, to review the draft trade union law for Federal Iraq and ensure its alignment with International Labour Standards.

The discussions aimed to find an alternative to the Trade Union Law in Iraq No. 52 of 1987, and ensure provisions that allow workers’ organizations to organize their elections, develop their bylaws, administrative and organizational structures, and manage their activities freely without restrictions, in line with International Labour Standards, in particular Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98) - both fundamental ILO Conventions which have been ratified by Iraq.

Participants discussed the provisions of the draft law, as well as proposals submitted by members of the Committee, legal experts of the Ministry, social partners and ILO to ensure that appropriate amendments are made in accordance with the relevant International Labour Standards and Iraq’s obligations in this regard.

The event comes months after the Council of Representatives in Federal Iraq voted to adopt a new Retirement and Social Security Law for Private Sector Workers. The law, which was adopted in May of this year, expands the legal coverage of the social security system, covering all workers including informal workers, the self-employed and contributing family workers and expands the range of entitlements to include maternity and unemployment benefits for the first time. 

The ILO, under the European Union funded programme to reform social protection, supported partners in the review of the social security law and continues to support the Government and social partners to enhance the legal framework for trade unions and strengthen their capacity to promote decent work and social protection for all in the country.

Under the Decent Work Country Programme, the ILO is working with its tripartite constituents to promote decent work, strengthen labour market governance and promote the realisation of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work through effective social dialogue between the government, and employers' and workers' organizations.

Given the important role of workers’ organizations in promoting the decent work agenda, including the expansion of social security coverage under the newly adopted social security law, it is necessary to provide a solid legal basis for workers’ organizations in Iraq to enable them to carry out their work freely and effectively. Social dialogue is at the essence of this process and this event here today, which illustrates the commitment by all partners to promote those rights and freedoms, is a first step in the right direction - towards a new trade union law that is in line with International Labour Standards.” Maha Kattaa, ILO Country Coordinator in Iraq

This law is important to guarantee the rights of workers and ensure the freedom of unions in Iraq, in accordance with International Labour Standards that have been ratified by the Government of Iraq.” Amir Al-Maamouri, Member of the Labour and Civil Society Organizations Committee

This law will regulate the work of unions, and ensure the freedom of unions and representation of workers, which is in line with the Iraqi Constitution that seeks to achieve democracy and freedom of expression.” Zainab Jayyashi, Member of the Parliamentary Labour and Civil Society Organizations Committee

We thank the ILO for their support in the (revision) of the Trade Union Law. This is an extremely important issue.” Sattar Danbous Al Brak, President of the General Federation of Iraq Workers (GFIW)

We are here with Members of Parliament, representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, trade unions, and the Iraqi Federation of Industry at the invitation of the ILO, which is supporting the trade unions with its legislation.” Saeed Neama Nasser, Iraqi Union Council

The provision of International Labour Standards in the drafting of this law was discussed in the past two days. The efforts presented during this workshop are highly appreciated as they allow Iraq to play a significant role in implementing ILO Conventions, which pave the way for a sound road map that supports workers and the trade union movement in Iraq.” Adnan Saffar, The Conference of Iraqi workers Federations and Unions

Our interventions focused on employers and workers. We hope to come up with a law that serves the workers and addresses the obligation of employers to their workers, in relation to their rights and responsibilities.” Noor Dhiyaa Bader, representative of the Iraqi Federation of Industries

We are currently facing challenges in Iraq, as freedom of association has not been well implemented but now, we are in the process of legislating this law which will protect the rights of workers in the country.” Hassan Jamal Al Shammari, Iraqi Union Council