The Kurdistan Labor Law, with 120 pages, consisting of 20 chapters and 154 articles, was submitted to the Kurdistan Parliament Presidency for its second reading. Reasons for proposing the draft include changes and regulation of employer-worker relations, including clearly stating that "The labor law provides a wage sufficient to meet the basic needs of a worker to support their family, and provides a total minimum wage for workers." According to Part VII of Articles 41 to 49, the minimum hourly or daily wage was not mentioned.
Article 50, Part I, states that
"in all cases, the wage may not be less than the maximum wage determined by law."KRI Labor Work Bill (First Draft)
Article 51 refers to the minister's decision to form a committee to propose a minimum wage that it decides. After that, it is agreed upon by the Kurdistan Region Council of Ministers.
According to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), only 8% of the 187 member states still need a minimum wage. Only six out of 27 countries in Europe do not set a minimum wage. In this analysis, we will focus briefly on the seventh section of the draft law, significantly the articles relating to the determination of salaries and the issue of minimum wages.
The Minimum Wage in the KRI
In Chapter Seven, II section, titled "Determining Wages" and Article 50, which consists of five paragraphs, the issue of workers' wages was touched upon, but none of the paragraphs mentioned the basis for the determination. For example, in the UK, the classification is done by age. The United States organizes it based on a general level throughout the country.
Paragraph 3 states that "the following must be considered when determining the minimum wage level. The needs of the worker and their family, the general level of wages in the country, standards of living, and available price levels in achieving and maintaining a high labor force also include the requirements for economic growth and the level of production and supporting abundance Employment opportunities (KRI Labor Law, p. 44).
While given the four criteria assigned to it by the committee, there needs to be a clear conclusion in determining the minimum wage for a worker. What is the general level of wages in the country that the law refers to in the first paragraph? Will the measurement be done according to Iraq's classes, the Kurdistan region, or the standard of living in different locations?
Although the fifth paragraph refers to the amendment of the minimum wage from time to time, it should establish a basis for the minimum wage for a worker in the Kurdistan Region, and the public and private sectors must abide by it. The following is a relatively comprehensive example of the minimum wage in the Kurdistan Region, which shows that workers in the Kurdistan Region of various types are forced to work daily and monthly:
Suppose a construction worker's daily wage is 25,000 dinars or more in cities and 15,000-10,000 IQD in districts and neighborhoods. Or if a waiter's monthly salary in the city center is between 500,000 to 700,000 and 250,000 to 300,000 IQD in the small towns, we notice no reference in the law to this difference. If we interpret the hourly wage for a restaurant worker, it is about $1 per hour. For example, in a restaurant, a worker who earns $400 or $600 a month and works about 12 hours a day earns $1.2 an hour, while in popular restaurants is less than that.
The Lowest Wages in the ME, EU, and the US
Arab countries, the EU, UK, and even the US set different wages. For example, Arab countries charge a monthly rate, Britain sets an hourly rate according to age, and the United States imposes a federal minimum wage of $7. The methods of determining the minimum wage are different and can be defined in several ways at the general level. Among Arab countries, the minimum wage is $206 in Qatar, $845 in Oman, $798 in Bahrain, $247 in Kuwait, and $310 in Jordan.
There are significant differences in minimum wages between European countries, as 6 out of 27 European Union countries do not set a minimum wage. For example, Europe's German parliament set the minimum wage at 12 euros per hour. Nevertheless, in Bulgaria, it is 2.19 euros, and Luxembourg comes in the highest place with 13.05 euros per hour. If we calculate the minimum wage for European workers, according to European Union data for June 2022, the minimum wage in Belgium was 363 euros, and in the highest Luxembourg, 2313 euros per month.
The UK minimum hourly wage has now been updated according to age. Those aged 23 and over will receive £10.43 per hour, those aged 21-22 will receive £10.18 per hour, and those under 18 will receive £5.28 per hour from April 2023. All over the United States, minimum wages have been set, but there are differences between amounts. For example, the minimum daily wage for a worker in the United States is $7.25, while the highest is $16.10 in Columbia and $14.49 in Washington.
The minimum wage, whether daily or monthly, is independent of the financial level of the state. Even the form of government and the state system does not affect it, as evidenced by the case of EU Countries. The main criterion for determining the price of workers' hours in Europe is to enable the worker to provide their basic needs.
Enacting the law and moving away from reliance on the Iraqi Labor Law of 1987 is a significant legal development for worker rights in the KRI. Still, the focus should be on working quickly to set and bind employers to minimum wages per hour or day. Now, what the worker receives for 12 hours or more or seven days a week with the salaries they receive makes a big difference between society and the income of individuals, and daily stratification increases between the layers of society.
Wages should be sufficient to cover housing and necessities such as food, water, electricity, and other receipts. Setting minimum wages as provided by law introduces complications and does not change the current minimum wage for any work. The law does not specify the minimum wage at the governorate level or the population or according to the worker's age. In addition, the bill requires a committee to name it, and then the minister approves it and sends it to the cabinet for approval. Hence, implementing the bill by the companies is another part of the story.