[Marxism] Iraqi Labor Organization Approves Draft of Labor law

mekchi at verizon.net mekchi at verizon.net
Tue Mar 16 21:44:46 MST 2004

Draft of Labour Law Proposed by the 
Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq

General Principles:

To meet the basic life and work-related needs of workers, the Labour Law should be based on the principles described below.  These principles apply a modern standard to: 

* Wage rates, working hours, work leaves, social welfare and insurance, conditions of professional safety and work hazards, retirement age, and heavy labor occupations.

* Political rights and union rights of workers to form labour organizations, go on strike, and hold general assembly meetings.

Article I: Working Hours and Retirement Age

Section 1.  The immediate introduction of a maximum 30-hour work week (five 6-hour working days), with a 25-hour work week in heavy occupations. Included in the working hours is the time spent for lunch breaks, commuting, taking showers, literacy classes, technical training, and general assembly meetings. Also included is a periodic reduction in the number of working hours every five years.

Section 2.  Prohibition of overtime. Prohibition of forcing workers to accept overtime hours, including the prohibitions of justifications such as preventing a disaster or other emergency situations.

Section 3.  The retirement age for women and men will be 55 years, or upon the completion of 25 years of employment, whichever comes first. For heavy occupations, 55 years or after 18 years of employment, whichever comes first.

Article II:  Working Conditions and Workplace Safety

Section 1. Assurance of a safe and healthy workplace by minimizing health and safety hazards in the workplace, without regard to cost. The most advanced equipment and technical resources in the world will be made available to workers. Periodic medical examinations will be provided to workers to protect against occupational hazards and illnesses. The examinations will be performed by medical providers independent of employers, and financed by employers and the state.

Section 2.  Prohibition of assigning heavy work to pregnant workers, or to workers whose health would be at risk owing to their specific physical conditions. Every worker has the right to refuse to perform a task that the worker considers to be physically or mentally harmful.

Section 3.  Prohibition of firing. Full remuneration will be made, at the same level as the last pay received, to workers whose workplace is shut down, and until new employment is found. The state has the responsibility to find comparable employment for workers who lose their jobs due to the closure of a business or enterprise. Vocational (re)training will be financed by the state for workers whose profession or line of work becomes obsolete due to technological advances.

Section 4.  Prohibition of piece-rate work such as piecework and contract work.

Section 5.  Prohibition of child labour. Prohibition of the employment by a business of children and youth under the age of 16.

Section 6.  Prohibition of night work. Double-rate pay will be provided to professions that require night hours, such as health care providers, electricians, firefighters, etc. Night jobs are defined as jobs performed at any time between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. The employment of any worker in more than one night shift will be prohibited.

Section 7.  Provision at the workplace of modern childcare facilities meeting standards that ensure the well being of workers’ children. Two half-hour breaks will be provided for the breastfeeding of children, and these breaks will be included in the working hours of the breastfeeding worker.

Section 8.  Employers and the state are to take all appropriate measures to prevent occupational illness and injury.

Section 9. Employers and the state are to provide all necessary tools and equipment such as special footwear and gowns, gloves, goggles, masks, and helmets, in order to prevent occupational hazards and to minimize occupational injuries and illness.

Article III:  Women’s Working Conditions

Section 1.  Pregnant workers are entitled to a 4-hour work day.

Section 2.  Pregnant woman are entitled to sixteen weeks fully paid pregnancy and confinement. Mothers are entitled to 18 weeks of fully paid maternity leave in order to perform child care labour in her domicile. Women are entitled to two days off during each menstrual period.

Section 3.  Workers who provide primary care for children are entitled to not accept nightshift or overtime working hours. Pregnant workers are entitled to perform only suitable work and to refuse unsuitable work.

Article IV: Wages

Section 1. A minimum wage will be set by the workers’ representatives.

Section 2.  Automatic rises in the minimum wage will be made proportional to economic inflation.

Section 3.  Determination of the minimum annual raise in wage levels will be made by a collective bargaining agreement at the national level, by a group consisting of representatives of workers’ organizations, representatives of employers, and representatives of the state.

Section 4.  Equal pay shall be provided to women and to men for performing similar work.

Section 5.  Prohibition of paying wages in-kind. Prohibition of delay in wage payments.

Section 6.  Prohibition of fines or any other deductions from pay under any pretext. Full wages shall be paid for valid absences, periods of illness and recuperation, strikes, or for the stoppage of production for any reason, or for reasons due to the actions of the employer.

Section 7.  Prohibition of linking workers’ pay to any circumstances and factors other than the actual labor itself (e.g., increased input, productivity levels, disciplinary actions, production targets, etc.). Workers’ pay shall be paid in one periodic unit of payment as wages.

Article V:  Leaves and Holidays

Section 1. Two consecutive days off each week, and a minimum 36-day holiday leave each year.  Workers are entitled to brief emergency leaves, without reduction in pay, in order to attend to unforeseen personal problems. Such emergency leaves are in addition to annual holiday leaves.
Section 2.  The first of May will be a public holiday, International Workers’ Day.

Section 3.  The eighth of March will be a public holiday, International Women’s Day.

Article VI: Social Welfare and Insurance 

Section 1.  Adequate unemployment benefits, according to the wages level last received by the worker, will be provided to every unemployed person over 16 who is ready to work. Adequate unemployment benefits and other necessary allowances will be provided to all those who are unable to work for physical or psychiatric reasons. 

Section 2.  Pensions upon retirement equivalent to the maximum wage received by the worker during the worker’s working years. Automatic raises in pension wages will be made proportional to increases in the general wage.

Section 3.  Full insurance of workers against injuries and damage due to work will be provided whether such injuries and damage occur inside or outside of the workplace. The worker need not prove negligence on the part of the employer or management to be so compensated. Full payment of pensions will be made to workers who become incapacitated as a result of injuries resulting from work.

Article VII:  Fines and penalties

Section 1.  Prohibition of fines, deductions from pay, or firing of workers under various pretexts.  Any form of punishment by employers against workers are prohibited. Representatives of the workers are responsible for investigating and taking appropriate measures against any violations of the above.
Section 2.  Formation of adjudication and arbitration councils, with members elected by the workers.

Section 3.  Drafting and enforcement of the internal regulations of workshops, economic, and production units by workers' elected representatives.

Section 4.  Formation of workers' inspection commissions to supervise the correct implementation of the labour law throughout the country in all workplaces and establishments (including domestic service workplaces)
Section 5.  Obligation of the employer to consult with the workers' representatives on any decision that substantially alters the work methods, working hours, the worksite, or the number of employees.
Section 6.  Right of workers' representatives to inspect the books of the enterprise in which they work. The employer is obligated to provide the workers and their representatives with all the information they need during the course of the inspection.

Article VIII:  Right to Organization

Section 1.  Full and unconditional freedom for workers to organize.  Workers are free to seek any form of organization to defend their rights. Obstructing workers’ endeavors to organize their ranks is prohibited. Prohibition of forcing workers to join any organization. Any organization endorsed by workers must be recognized and dealt with as the workers’ representatives before their employer and the state. 

Article IX: Right to Strike and Protest

Section 1.  Complete and unconditional freedom to strike. Strikes do not require the prior permission of the state or any state authority. Full payment of wages shall be made during the period of  the strike. Equal right of access to the media shall be made to strikers so that they may state their case and respond to the claims of the state and employers. Banning strikes under any pretext, such as "national and patriotic interests,” “state of emergency,” or “war,” shall be illegal. 

Section 2.  Prohibition against the employment of strike-breakers, police, or armed personnel used to replace strikers, in all businesses and enterprises, state and private. 

Section 3.  Right of workers to stop work during the period when their complaints regarding actions of the employers and their officials, including safety issues or unforeseen problems in the workplace, are being addressed or negotiated.

Section 4.  Freedom of picketing. Freedom for all to join picket lines, whether or not they are employees of the enterprise concerned.
Note: this labour law is to be implemented in all workplaces in public and private sectors, permanent and casual, industrial and agricultural jobs, and also apply to domestic labor for wages (housework). Any employer or official who violates the articles of this law will be prosecuted.
The Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq demands the immediate adoption and implementation of the articles of this law in Iraq. The Federation struggles for its implementation all over Iraq through the intervention of Workers.
The Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq call upon all Iraqi workers, labour leaders, labour activists, and labour organizations to join the struggle to implement this law all over the country.  It also announces that the General Assembly of Workers is the only vehicle that can ensure the direct and collective participation of workers in deciding their future and implementing this law. 

Appendix of the Labour Law Draft
To complement the proposed labour law and cover related social issues under the title of social welfare and insurance, we call for additional demands as an appendix of labour law. The articles of this appendix are to be incorporated into the labour law. Similar to the above articles of labour law, the implementation of the articles of this appendix by employers and by the state is mandatory.  

Article I: Social Welfare and Insurance
Section 1. Payment of unemployment benefits equivalent to no less than the official minimum wage will be provided to all unemployed persons over 16. 
Section 2. Payment of state pensions equivalent to no less than the official minimum wage will be provided to all persons over 55 who lack a retirement pension. 
Section 3. Placing under the guardianship of the state all children and youth under 16 whose sustenance and proper welfare is not provided through their families.
Section 4. Free and universal health care will be provided for all. This includes regular medical check-ups and the comprehensive vaccination of infants and children. An adequate and suitable diet will be guaranteed for all children without consideration of family income, region, place of residence, etc. Also included is the eradication of epidemic and infectious diseases arising from polluted and unhygienic environments. Regular medical examinations will be provided to everyone for the purpose of screening and diagnosing heart disease, common cancers, and other illness when a timely diagnosis is essential to effective treatment. There will be an improvement in the standards of public health as well as an expanded public health awareness. Medical and therapeutic resources will be expanded and organized in a manner that makes immediate access to a doctor, medications, and treatment the standard for all.
Section 5. Compulsory free universal education will be provided until the age of 16. Free and universal higher education includes university and specialization training. Adequate grants will be made to all students. There will be an eradication of illiteracy and an ongoing rise in the public's education level including scientific and technical awareness. Education is the right of every person, and access to education and training must be independent of family income.
Section 6. Guaranteed suitable housing for all, in terms of adequate space, hygiene, safety, and utilities (electricity, warm and cold water, bathroom facilities inside the building, air-conditioning, heating, connection to telephone and TV networks, and access to local public services). Housing costs must not exceed 10% of the individual's or family's income; any extra cost shall be met through state subsidy. Homelessness or residing in substandard housing is unlawful and the state authorities are obliged under the law to provide suitable housing for all citizens immediately.
Section 7. Setting up special service centers, such as day-care centers, nurseries, canteens, self-service restaurants, modern launderettes, etc., locally and in housing estates, to relieve the burden of housework and to enable the participation of all people in social activities.
Section 8. Creation of free sport, art, and cultural facilities in all localities, including gyms, theatres, and libraries and the provision of instructors and trainers.
Section 9. Provision of necessary alterations and facilities for the full and active participation of disabled and handicapped people in all areas of social life. Provision of special facilities and equipment for the physically handicapped, in public places, on roads, housing estates, etc. Free provision of necessary equipment, technical instruments, and other devices to facilitate the daily life of the disabled.
Section 10. Creation of facilities and service establishments that meet the needs of the elderly and to improve the quality of their lives. Provision of necessary resources and facilities to help the elderly continue to participate actively and creatively in social life.
Section 12. Extension of urban public services (electricity, water, telephone, educational, medical and cultural facilities, etc.) to all rural areas, and the elimination of the welfare disparity between town and country.

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