They want rights, not celebrations
Najat Hawez works for a party official in Kirkuk. When he finished his job, the official have threatened to kill him if he asks for a fee. While today is the International Workers’ Day, Hawez cannot ask for his rights and does not know who defends him.
Hawez is a 27-year-old Arab worker who comes from Salahadin province to Kirkuk for work. He said “I worked 15 days for an official in Shoraw, but when I finished he did not give me the money and told me: Go, or you are dead.”
Hawez’s story is the same story of many workers who despite their exhaustive work on the job have their rights taken away. Some of them even face humiliation while on duty.
Hawez is cleaning Kirkuk streets now and says “Some people call us sweeper as to mock us.” He added, “Our salary is always delayed, and we can’t pay the rents of our houses on time.”
On May 1st, workers movements and leftists herald the strife of the workers around the world, as it’s a day of working towards workers’ rights and realizing their dreams.
May the 1st is a formal holiday in more than 80 countries as it is praised informally in other countries.
Although workers protest on that day for their rights, the Workers Syndicate plans to hold some celebrations. “We’ll launch a big ceremony and reward some workers,” according to Dler Aziz, head of the Kirkuk branch of Iraqi Workers Syndicate.
“We work to improve their life standards,” Aziz said.
According to the syndicate, Kirkuk has 5 thousand workers, while the statistics exclude those workers are not members of the syndicate. “The Iraqi government makes problems for our syndicate and does not facilitate for us,” Aziz said, explaining the slow steps taken by their syndicate in defending workers.
Ghafour Abdulrahman, 37, is a worker who complains of not finding jobs easily, while they are ready to work on a daily basis. “We most often work once in two days. Sometimes they do not give us our money on time, so we return with no money,” Abdulrahman said.
He criticized the Workers Syndicate by saying that “They could not take our rights and resolve our issues.” Another worker Hawar Ali has asked for protests and demonstrations instead of ceremonies and celebrations.
Ali is working for the Panja Ali Salt Company. He works for fifteen days and only gets 70 thousand Iraqi dinars. “The money spent on ceremonies, could be better spent on improving workers’ lives,” Ali said said.
Officials claim that they have plans to provide more job opportunities and to make the workers able to find jobs easily. However, workers have not benefited from any decisions of the government.
Jwan Hasan, head of the Women’s and Children Committee in the Kirkuk Provincial Council said, “We have put our continuous efforts into improving workers living standards, but their rights are still being taken away and they have been oppressed.”
Nergiz Qadir – Kirkuk Now