In a letter, General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen expressed Education International (EI)’s “disappointment to learn from the Kurdistan Teachers Union (KTU), one of EI’s affiliates in Iraq, that teachers and education workers in the whole of the Kurdistan Region have not received their salary since September last year”.
Addressed to His Excellency Haider al-Abadi, van Leeuwen’s letter, sent on 2 February, says that,“In times of economic crisis, investing in public services, and especially in education, is key to recovery and the best strategic response to such economic crises”.
Investment in education includes investment in teachers, in order to have well-motivated, well-trained and well-supported teachers delivering quality education to their students, he adds.
He also notes that education is also key to strengthening democracy and social cohesion, and fostering respect for cultural and linguistic diversity.
Van Leeuwen insists that “the role of education as a vehicle for peace, respect, tolerance and non-violence is all the more important in a country like Iraq that is facing war, extremism and terrorism”.
EI is urgently calling on the Iraqi authorities to:
• Immediately pay the salary arrears of all teachers concerned
• Take adequate measures to ensure that such a delay in the payment of teachers’ salaries does not occur in the future
• Respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of teachers in accordance with international labour standards
• Engage in meaningful dialogue with Iraqi teachers’ organisations, and meet the legitimate demands of teachers for a decent status and working conditions
Repeatedly going on strike over the issue of salary payment, members of the KTU stressed that the local government had alleged that the region is suffering from a drop in the price of oil and the cost of the war against the Islamic State’s forces.
However, the KTU pointed out that the Kurdistan government is selling oil and yet is still not paying public servants’ salaries. The union also underlined that teachers are coping with a huge influx of 1.8 million refugees from the war in Syria and other Iraqi regions.