Discontent over unpaid salaries mounts in Iraq Kurdistan

Friday 05/02/2016
Salaries have not been paid for months

ARBIL - Doctors and traffic police protested Monday in the cash-strapped Kurdish region of northern Iraq, as discontent mounted over unpaid salaries and wage cuts in the government sector.

In and around the city of Sulaimaniyah, members of the traffic police staged a sit-in and went on strike because their salaries have not been paid for months.

"Traffic police officers and members have begun a strike in several areas of the province (of the same name) to demand a solution to the salaries issue," local traffic police directorate spokesman, Karwan Mohammed Siddiq, said.

Teachers led the way two weeks ago with protests over months of unpaid wages, also in Sulaimaniyah.

The autonomous Kurdish region has been hit hard by the slump in oil prices and its de facto president, Massud Barzani, announced earlier this month that all government employees except security personnel would only receive partial salaries.

In Iraqi Kurdistan's capital Arbil, where the ruling party is dominant, doctors sent the regional government a petition Monday demanding they be treated like the security forces and paid full salaries.

They argued they were an integral part of the war effort led by the peshmerga forces against the Islamic State jihadist group because they helped treat fighters and their families.

The doctors threatened to "hold a general strike if the government does not respond to these demands by February 14".