Firings Fuel Suicide Rise in Iraq

Officials in the province of Basra, which is located 590 km south of Baghdad, have revealed that suicide rates have increased among youths fired from their jobs at local companies. These terminations came in the absence of any laws to protect private-sector employees. 

Deputy Governor of Basra Ahmed al-Hassani told Al-Hayat: “Suicide cases are spreading in the province, because youth are increasingly facing contract termination in local firms. These terminations increase at this time of the year, as companies reexamine their employment capacity and dismiss those who are seen as surplus.” 

Hassani continued: “[Iraq] lacks a law that guarantees rights of the employees in the private sector; terminating an employment only depends on the supervisor’s opinion in the company. There are no regulations that oblige the employer to not fire an employee or to pay the end-of-service benefits. 

For this reason, some of those who lost their jobs commit suicide, because they see that getting a job in the public and private sectors has become almost impossible.” “Most of the contracts and jobs in oil companies are temporary and periodic. 

Therefore, once the contract is over, the employee is out of work,” Hassani added. Most companies face difficulties in hiring foreign workers due to the government rules in Iraq. This is why they employ Iraqi citizens but manage their contracts as they please. 

Hassani urged the government to adopt a law that protects employees in the private sector, “such as allowing them to benefit from the end-of-service bonus if they signed short-term contracts, and to have retirement rights if they signed long-term contracts. 

This would be paid for by the standard pension deduction from incomes, just like those deducted from government employees’ salaries, which go to state coffers. “Many oil and contractor companies, security firms and banks are located in the Basra province and employ engineers and project managers,” he said. 

“These persons are employed to work on a specific project. However, once the one-year project is over, companies terminate the contract, which gave them salaries higher than government wages. The employee in this case had already paid a sum of money that is equal to three times his salary to the employment agent that got him this job." 

The head of the Basra Provincial Council’s Security Committee, Ali al-Maliki, said: “Suicide cases are rising in Basra, and most of those who commit suicide are setting fire to themselves or throwing themselves into the rivers. Of course, the latter is an option for those who do not swim.” 

Maliki said that after interviewing the victims’ parents, they found many of the deceased had killed themselves a day after they were terminated from their job in local companies or public firms, which pay youth employees daily wages and terminate them at the end of the year because they lack the budget for the next year. 

The police department has formed a team of divers to thwart any suicide attempts around areas with fast-moving water currents. This team has also retrieved the corpses of suicide victims. Incidents of suicide also increase after university students receive their first-session exam results in July of each year, or the second session’s results in October. 

They know that their parents cannot afford the costs involved with a second year. Moreover, some suicides are committed, for example, by young men who can’t meet marriage requirements, having been refused by the parents refused because they are unemployed. 

No comments: