Workers celebrate May Day in Iraq, where the Solidarity Center supports all Iraqi trade unions as they seek to establish their worker rights. Credit: Solidarity Center/Mustafa Qusay
The Solidarity Center supports all Iraqi trade unions as they seek to establish their human rights as workers, in law and in practice. Unions and other civil society organizations first existed openly in 2003 and the space for freedom of association has continued to expand since then, leading to the establishment of many unions and federations. Though the 1987 law limiting trade unions remains in effect, unions have obtained de facto recognition and legitimacy in society through their efforts on behalf of workers.
Supported by the Solidarity Center, the Iraqi labor movement has achieved significant gains, including passage of a 2015 national labor law in line with International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, as well as ratification of ILO Convention 87 on the right to form unions, which has provided space for more workers to organize in Iraq, including those in the public sector.
The Solidarity Center works with unions, civil society organizations (CSOs), labor inspectors and lawyers to improve enforcement of these labor laws through education and new law for workers, employers, labor inspectors, lawyers and the general public, improved use of the media as an education and advocacy tool for labor law enforcement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted significant gaps in worker rights’ enforcement and in workers’ access to social protections, which has also led to a campaign to reform the social security system to expand coverage to more types of workers, including workers in the informal economy and provide additional benefits, such as unemployment insurance. Because the economic situation in Iraq has further deteriorated during the pandemic, the Solidarity Center is supporting unions and CSOs to develop alternative economic policy recommendations that promote decent work and equitable economic growth.