On May Day laborers demand better lifestyle
Laborers march in Sulaimani to ask the KRG and the private sector companies to give the low-paid workers better safety conditions and higher wage.
Many of the low-paid workers criticize the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and private sector companies on Labor Day due to lack of safety conditions and poor quality lifestyle. According to official figures from the Kurdistan Workers Syndicate (KWS), around 78 workers have been killed due to the lack of standardized safety measures at work.
Mohammed Kadhim, 37, who is a low-paid worker, says that he has to work on Labor Day due to having a poor quality lifestyle. He demands the KRG puts pressure on the job-owners to improve working conditions for the workers.
“Demanding higher wage, better benefits, and for the right to be treated like a human being is not too much,” he said, adding that he is an example of a “larger disheartened and neglected community”.
He further added that the problem has a broader international dimension because he heard about many laborers protest across the world. But he said that the KRG and its relevant ministries can resolve at least part of their problem.
Addressing the KRG and private sector companies indirectly, Kadhim said: “The slavery era is not over. Working for more than 12 hours per day with a low wage is like slavery.”
He further said that he witnessed a colleague who died as a result of lack of safety conditions. He calls for higher salary by the job owners, adding that the country is booming and despite this the labor class has become poorer.
Mohammad Qaradkhi, Secretary for Kurdistan Council of Ministers, announced that May 1st is Labor Day and a public holiday by all governmental institutions.
Hassan Ramadan, Spokesperson for the Erbil’s KWS, has said that the worker death toll has risen this year compared to last year. “Around eight workers died last year, while seven workers died only in the first quarter of 2013.”
He further stated that the number of the foreign laborers has mounted year after year, adding that there are around 14, 560 foreign laborers in Erbil.
However, Kurdistan Parliament amended Labor Law which is in the interest of workers, but they still believe that the law has not so far benefited them.
Khalil Kareem, an Arab worker from the province of Nineveh, works in Erbil and believes that the workers live in a very awful situation, adding that they have no rights, and are disrespected.
However, lack of social insurance makes the situation harder for the workers. According to the KRG’s Labor Law, employers are legally responsible for paying 12% of the insurance, the worker 5% and the government has to pay 30% percent of the insurance. Female workers have the right to take maternity leave with their wage saved in the private sector companies, the law reads. Laborers march In addition, hundreds of workers marched and chanted en mass in the second largest Kurdish province of Sulaimani on Wednesday, chanting slogans such as “Kurdistan Parliament where are laborers' rights?” The demonstration organized by Kurdistan Communist Part.