Workers, vendors in Kurdish Iraq fight for right to work

By Roy Landersen
May 4, 2020

Mechanics and vendors held protests in Erbil, above, and Duhok April 18 against a government lockdown across the Kurdistan region of Iraq. They called on the government to allow them to reopen their garages and shops after a month of closures.

“How can I make money if I don’t come to work?” one of the mechanics in Duhok said to Kurdish news agency Rudaw.

The Kurdistan Regional Government locked down the country March 14, forcing workers to stay in their homes, saying it would contain the spread of coronavirus. This lockdown has been extended several times.

Other provinces — Sulaymaniyah and Halabja — have allowed premises in the industrial zones, including garages, to reopen. But in Erbil and Duhok only garages providing emergency services are allowed.

The government hasn’t provided any financial support to those who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the shutdown. Thousands of families have survived from donations distributed by charity organizations.

Teachers and other public sector workers protested the government’s failure to pay their salaries outside the education directorate office in Sulaymaniyah April 22.