Muhammad Samaan, head Kirkuk’s Retirement and Social Security Department, calls on those who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 outbreak to submit complaints against their employers.
According to Samaan’s department, the unemployment rate has reached 30% to 35%.
He told KirkukNow: “The Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown have made thousands of people jobless.
Some factories and companies have reduced the number of their employees, or they refused paying wages during the lockdown.”
it is necessary for them to submit complaints; they are entitled to receive their financial dues
He described the issue as highly problematic and stressed that “it is necessary for them to submit complaints, because according to the Retirement and Social Security Law, they are entitled to receive their financial dues."
Samaan added: "The decrease in the number of working hours has affected a large number of professionals, for example the Kar conglomerate decided to lay off 1000 workers during the Coronavirus period. There are many companies that have reduced their work shifts from three to two due to the lockdown."
He stressed that according to his assessment and statistics from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the unemployment rate has risen to about 30% to 35%.
Some of those who have lost their jobs are self-employed, such as shopkeepers or street vendors, and others were wage labourers and had no other sources of income.
Balén Jum’a from Kirkuk’s Qadisiya neighbourhood was forced to close his delicatessen shop after the first COVID-19 infection appeared at the end of February.
One of my brothers, who is a Peshmerga, helps us out currently. But his salary is small and isn’t paid on time
“I didn’t have work in that period. Securing a livelihood for my own family and my parents was on my shoulders. One of my brothers, who is a Peshmerga, helps us out currently. But his salary is small and isn’t paid on time,” Balén added.
The Salary of Balén’s brother ranges from 600,000 to 700,000 Dinars ($500 to $580), and at present this amount is distributed among three families consisting of a total of 10 individuals. Which Balén describes as destitution.
During the imposed lockdown to halt the COVID-19 spread, the Iraqi government allocated only an amount of 30,000 dinars for each person, and only for the poor who are not employed by the government. Except for that the government has not provided any aid, neither in food nor in medical supplies.
“During the lockdown period, life has been very difficult. Many people have lost their income. I know people who don’t have enough to pay for a taxi ride,” Balén said.
On his Facebook page, Muhammad Samaan has repeatedly urged those who had lost their jobs to register their complaints and not waive their rights.
Those who have lost their jobs, can go to the Labour Office in Kirkuk to apply for the unemployed benefit
Samaan said: "Those who have lost their jobs, can go to the Labour Office in Kirkuk to apply for the unemployed benefit."
53-year-old Kazhal Abdulla used to sell socks and children toys on sidewalks before the Coronavirus outbreak, but she has lost her job as well.
“My husband is bedridden, and providing for our three kids was on me. We live in a rented house, and we live in poverty. I don't even have enough to visit the doctor,” Kazhal says.
She appeals to the government to provide aid to those who have lost their livelihoods due to the COVID-19 outbreak. "I am constantly thinking about how to secure a living for my children."