Em­ploy­ment and Re­tire­ment: the cri­sis

Fresh grad­u­ates crit­i­cize the government for lack of jobs in the pub­lic sec­tor and gov­ern­men­tal em­ploy­ees are wor­ried about their pen­sions

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Salih Wal­ad­bagi

Fresh Univer­sity Grad­u­ates, with the hope of new op­por­tu­ni­ties await­ing them are bit­ter about the lack of jobs avail­able within the pub­lic sec­tors. Older em­ploy­ees of the gov­ern­men­tal in­sti­tu­tions in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion are con­cerned about life af­ter re­tire­ment and their pen­sion.

Fresh Univer­sity Grad­u­ates, with the hope of new op­por­tu­ni­ties await­ing them are bit­ter about the lack of jobs avail­able within the pub­lic sec­tors. Older em­ploy­ees of the gov­ern­men­tal in­sti­tu­tions in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion are con­cerned about life af­ter re­tire­ment and their pen­sion.

Both in Iraqi and Kur­dis­tani con­sti­tu­tion, 63 is the age of re­tire­ment. A 60-year-old em­ployee at a government-run bank in Er­bil spoke to me con­fi­den­tially. She ex­plained that for the past 31 years, she has worked in the pub­lic sec­tor and did not want to re­tire be­cause she will lose a con­sid­er­able por­tion of her in­come. She has a de­gree in ac­count­ing and speaks French.

“I wish I could leave my work in the government sec­tor, and start a new job. I tried to be an ac­coun­tant in a pri­vate bank but it didn’t hap­pen,” she ex­plained with a sor­row­ful look on her face. If she were to re­tire, she will re­ceive 60-70 per­cent of her ba­sic salary. She ex­plained “Life is not easy, no one can live on their pen­sion alone, things are too ex­pen­sive”.

Re­bar Sideeq Muhammed, gen­eral di­rec­tor of re­tire­ment, said, be­sides manda­tory re­tire­ment; there is vol­un­tary re­tire­ment where em­ploy­ees at 55, with 30 years of ser­vice in the pub­lic sec­tor, can re­quest early re­tire­ment. Em­ploy­ees who reach 60 and who have served the government for 25 years can also choose early re­tire­ment, he said.

Muham­mad added that even for peo­ple at the age of re­tire­ment, the government might not be ready to al­low them to re­tire. "There are three rea­sons for ex­tend­ing the dura- tion of a con­tract. First, if the po­si­tion is a rare one. Sec­ond, if there is no ex­pe­ri­enced em­ployee to take over the job from the per­son re­tir­ing. Third, if the rel­e­vant min­istry or em­ployer asks the em­ployee to con­tinue his or her job," Muhammed ex­plained.

An­other bank em­ployee in Er­bil who will have to re­tire next year ex­pressed con­cern about the prospects of her liv­ing con­di­tions af­ter re­tire­ment. She said her hus­band, a re­tired government em­ployee, has a hard time sur­viv­ing on his re­tire­ment pen­sion be­cause he has to seek treat­ment for a chronic disease. Although she has served in the pub­lic sec­tor for 30 years and is el­i­gi­ble for re­tire­ment, she said, "I will not ap­ply for re­tire­ment un­til I reach 63.” While some em­ploy­ees at the age of re­tire­ment con­tinue serv­ing in the pub­lic sec­tor, oth­ers, mostly young peo­ple, com­plain that there are no em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for them within the government in­sti­tu­tions.

Alan, 23, was tak­ing a break in Er­bil's cen­tral park. He is a con­struc­tion worker. "I have ap­plied to gov­ern­men­tal in- sti­tu­tions sev­eral times, but they said I can’t get a job be­cause I don't have a de­gree," said Alan. He only went to school un­til ninth grade.

As Alan was speak­ing, Ahmed Yousef, an un­em­ployed univer­sity grad­u­ate sit­ting nearby in­ter­rupted him: "I grad­u­ated last year and ap­plied to be an em­ployee in gov­ern­men­tal sec­tor, but they did not re­spond to my ap­pli­ca­tions." Yousef added, "This is an aw­ful sit­u­a­tion to be in."

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