Litter accumulating in Khanaqin as unpaid workers go on strike

Diyala, October 2022: Accumulation of garbage in the center of Khanaqin district due to the strike of environmental workers. KirkukNow

By KirkukNow in Diyala

Litter is accumulating in the neighborhoods and streets of Khanaqin, due to the strike of cleaners for not being paid their monthly salaries.

Workers collecting garbage in Khanaqin have been on strike since mid-October 2022, demanding the payment of their August and September salaries.

Ahmad Yousef, an environmental worker, told KirkukNow that only six out of 100 workers are working because they have not received their salaries for August and September.

The workers have a contract with Gardin Company to clean Khanaqin and are paid 300,000 Iraqi dinars IQD (USD200) monthly.

KirkukNow contacted the company and a representative of the company, who preferred t ostay anonymous, stressed that the problem is not within their authority and due to the lack of budget by the government, they cannot provide the salaries of their workers.

Gardin Company has a contract with the Khanaqin Municipality – which belongs to the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG – per which over 100 workers clean the city daily.

Khanaqin District, home to 90,000 Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens, Sunnis and Shias, is part of Diyala province and is one of the disputed territories which extends from Khanaqin, on the border with Iran, to the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk up to Shingal (Sinjar), home to the Ezidi community, in Mosul, in the far west, on Iraq-Syria borders.

Most of the disputed territories were under control of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces up to October 2017, when the Iraqi Security Forces ISF took over control of these territories following the defeat of ISIS.

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Diyala, October 2022: The municipality is incapable to keep Khanaqin tidy. KirkukNow

Soran Ali, the head of Khanaqin Municipality, told KirkukNow that the workers of Gardin Company have been on strike because they have not received their salaries for two months.

He says they coordinate with the Iraqi government's Khanaqin municipality to control garbage collection during workers' strikes.

According to KirkukNow's field investigation, the strike has caused the accumulation of garbage in Khanaqin neighborhoods.

Adel Ahmad, an environmental worker who has been sent home for two weeks, told KirkukNow, “We are 41 workers whose company said it could not pay our salaries.” Ahmad is a tenant and his wages are his only source of livelihood, he says.

Earlier, in December 2021, workers collecting garbage in Khanaqin went on strike for a while due to non-payment of their salaries, which was later resolved.

"The problem of salary and lack of money is not only in Khanaqin, Garmian, Ranya and other places, six companies are facing the same problem, whose money is spent by the Kurdistan Regional Government and had meetings with the government, but we still do not know what the result," the head of Khanaqin Municipality said.

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