Cement workers protest to save jobs, Iraq

Cement workers protest to save jobs, Iraq
Published: 09 September 2008

Following communiqués and correspondence, workers and their union, the Iraqi Kurdistan Workers Syndicate Union (IKWSU), took to the streets of Sulimanyya on 28 August in peaceful protest.

Cement workers and their union were demonstrating against the sudden decision to close the Taslooja cement plant and the regional authority’s decision to transfer jobs to far-off locations at reduced pay. They also protested the withholding of past salaries that have gone unpaid.

The demonstrators marched to the regional governor’s office with a list of demands, according to IKWSU President Sardar Mohammed Rasheed. Those demands included payment in full of back salaries, and worker transfers to active enterprises within the area, including electricity installations.

The IKWSU-sponsored march and protest had a positive effect: the regional government agreed to comply with the demands, and approved overtime and a hazard allowance as a first step. The union and authority then also agreed to establish a committee to work out other issues.

The IKWSU received active support from the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI) throughout the dispute, and during the 28 August march and protest. The regional authority is closing the Taslooja cement plant for environmental reasons.