On the Picket Line

Kurdish teachers strike, march on Baghdad for unpaid wages

By Ilona Gersh
December 11, 2023

Over 58,000 Kurdish teachers in Sulaimaniyah province have been on strike for back wages for more than two months in the longest teachers strike in the history of Kurdistan, putting nearly a million students out of school. More than 1,000 protested in Tahrir Square in Baghdad Nov. 26, bringing their demands for regular monthly wage payment and permanent employment for noncontract teachers to the Iraqi capital. Hundreds were prevented by Iraqi security forces from traveling there.

The Iraqi Teachers’ Union came out in support of the Kurdish teachers.

The workers demand the Iraqi government take over paying them, saying the Kurdish Regional Government hasn’t been able to do so since their oil exports were blocked in March.

The Kurdish people have long faced national oppression in Iraq, as well as in Iran, Turkey and Syria.

Teachers and other public employees in Sulaimaniyah got no wages for some 90 days this summer before the federal government agreed to loan the KRG money to pay them. Teachers haven’t been paid for the months of September and October.