Iraq: Kurdish authorities must arrange for speedy payment of all salary arrears

published 23 June 2023 updated 27 June 2023

Insisting on the negative impact of the delay in the payment of the salaries of teachers and education support personnel in Kurdistan, the President of the Kurdistan Teachers’ Union (KTU), Abdulwahed Muhammad Haje, has made it clear that arrears in the payment of Kurd educators’ salaries must be considered as loans to be repaid.

The issue of salary payments arose in early 2015 and was delayed month after month because of the conflict between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi federal government, he explained.

This resulted in forced savings in late 2015 and early 2016 – ranging from 20% to 70% – which is against the legal requirements of the 2008 Salary Law No. 23 and the 1960 Civil Service Law No. 24, he added.

Haje also criticised the fact that twelve full salaries were not paid – four months in 2015, with the remaining eight months in 2019 and early 2020. Besides, salary cuts of 21% and 18% were implemented over a ten-month period.

These drastic measures were implemented while salary increases had been suspended since 2015, he stessed, and “with much difficulty and austerity”.

The missing salaries or salary parts “would have undoubtedly satisfied some of the family's and individuals' dreams and goals”, he noted.

Salary arrears are debts that must be satisfied!

Haje went on: “Those who have made life more difficult for the Kurdish people must not forget this and take the situation lightly. They should not believe that teachers and employees merely passed this period. On the contrary, all those who have been mistreated in this position have one slogan: Arrears are debts that must be acquitted!”

The silence of the Kurdistan government infuriated the people of Kurdistan, Haje added.

Explaining that it is sometimes argued that the Kurdish administration must refund the debts, and other times that Baghdad – the central Iraqi Government – must repay the debts because it was the main cause of it, Haje mentioned that the Iraqi government does not regard itself to be the primary responsible party for resolving the situation and reimbursing the payments, and announced that it is not responsible for it.

For Haje, “the ball has now returned to the field of the Kurdistan administration, and it is past time for the Kurdistan administration to make the courageous decision to repay the money. It must not require the people of Kurdistan, particularly those who have faced numerous challenges, to wait for assistance from Baghdad.”

He further stressed that “no teacher or employee believes that their savings must be reimbursed all at once. They merely want the Kurdish administration to confirm that it owes the Kurdish people money, and that the amount of the obligations be shown in a bank account, where it can be used and spent for various purposes.”

The union also expects the government to reimburse as much as possible each month, Haje added. “It is, in my opinion, the bare minimum that the Kurdish administration can do for its teachers, employees, and loyal Kurds.”