The phenomenon of work without salaries in Iraq has worsened during the recent period, which prompted the employees of many government institutions to organize protests and sit-ins to demand their rights.
There is no official and accurate statistics on the numbers of employees in the forced labor system in Iraq, but officials in several ministries assured Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed that they are more than 300,000 employees, orders were issued to appoint them to the daily wages system for workers, and the lectures system for teachers and university professors, many of whom did not receive any salaries Or financial rewards since their appointment, and some of them have been continuing for years.
The officials, who declined to be named, say that the list of institutions with no-salary employees also includes the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.
The number of government employees in Iraq is estimated at about six million, according to the 2016 Ministry of Planning statistics, and they are in various positions with state departments. While their number is likely to increase since then to the present, observers believe that about 70% of them are redundant, at a time when the state pays salaries amounting to 60% of the total budget of the country annually.
All ministries complain of non-receipt of salaries
An employee of a contract in the Ministry of Construction and Housing in Baghdad told Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed that his appointment order was issued in 2017 in one of the departments affiliated to the ministry, but his financial allocation with six other new employees was not accompanied with the appointment decision, and since that date, He did not receive any salary. ”
The employee, who preferred not to be named, explained that “communication with the Ministry of Finance did not help, and that staff contacts with the Prime Minister’s office usually end with reassurances only to no avail.”
Through talking to employees of the Iraqi Ministry of Sports, it became clear that the majority of employees without salaries were appointed during the rule of former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, where decisions were issued without any financial allocations due to austerity.
And employees of the “New Arab” said, “The Abadi government did not provide the financial allocations for those who were appointed during the austerity periods and therefore did not receive any salaries, despite the approval of more than one federal financial budget during the past years, but the contract salaries file was not addressed.”
More than 400 employees at Baghdad International Airport had previously threatened with a strike, because they had not received their salaries for 16 months, after they protested in front of the main airport gate, due to the Ministry of Transport problems with the government and political differences and the failure to provide financial allocations to some employees.
University professors protest
On a similar level, Baghdad witnessed, during the past months, and specifically before the October 2019 uprising, a series of sit-ins held by university professors working under the “daily wages or according to the number of lectures”, in order to demand payment of their money that they did not receive, although they are symbolic.
The demonstrations of university professors continued during the recent period, despite the cessation of the sit-in.
There are no funds for employees in the general budget
An Iraqi official in the current caretaker government replied to a question for “Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed” about the crisis of employees without salaries or “forced labor” by saying that “there are no funds allocated to them in the public budget,” acknowledging that improvised decisions of ministers and the former and current prime minister contributed to Create this segment of the Iraqis. ”
He pointed out, the official, who declined to be named, that they need to add about 6 billion dinars annually for contracts and daily procedures at the very least, and it is in the hands of Parliament to compel the government to add these amounts to the next budget.
He expected that “the amendment of the recent retirement law will reduce the numbers of forced laborers, but it will not end it unless by a decision to employ them or grant them compensation and dismiss them.”