Public sector workers in the Iraqi Kurdistan region of Iraq staged a strike on Sunday the 29th of November in protest after their wages being withheld for in some cases since March of this year. Teachers, health workers and other civil servants made up the strike as Iraq’s deep economic crisis plunges people further into poverty.
The feeble excuse given by the government is the falling level of oil revenue, which was likely brought about by the lessened demand during the Covid-19 pandemic. The numbers are severe, with the total of oil revenue going to the government of £6.5bn from 2019 nose diving to £3.3bn in 2020 for the oil rich region. But is this really an excuse? Given that billions of pounds worth of oil wealth that could go to paying wages and improving the lives of the working class is instead paid to Turkish energy companies that manage oil pipelines among other things in the region.
The regions leaders have been in a deadlock with the central government in Bagdad for months now, Steve Sweeney described the situation in the Morning Star, saying, “Earlier this month, after an all-night session, the Iraqi parliament passed the Fiscal Deficit Coverage Bill that funds salaries for civil servants in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region for the last two months of this year. But Kurdish representatives walked out of the session in protest after Baghdad demanded the KRG send the 250,000 barrels of oil daily and half their income from border crossing fees, agreed this summer.”
This playing petty politics has failed the workers whose wages haven’t been paid, putting already impoverished people under heavy pressure just to be able to put food on the table for their families.