Angered by salary delays, resident doctors go on strike again in Kurdistan Region

Healthcare sector has experienced significant labor unrest this year
Hospital workers in the Kurdistan Region (File)

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SULAIMANI — In response to delayed and unpaid salaries, resident doctors and healthcare workers at hospitals in Sulaimani and Halabja governorates and the Garmian and Raparin administrations went on strike on Wednesday (September 23).

Chamchamal Health Directorate confirmed in a statement that many of its staff walked off the job at facilities in the district, including the emergency unit of Shahid Peshraw Hospital, Basara Hospital in Shorsh sub-district, and the 24-hour health center in Takiya sub-district.

Meanwhile, hospital directors in rural districts and sub-districts were told not to transfer emergency cases to hospitals in the cities because of the small number of healthcare workers who have continued working.

It is the latest example of labor unrest in the healthcare sector, with strikes happening nearly every month since April because of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) struggles to pay its public servants.

In April, Baghdad cut off all budget transfers to Erbil after the latter failed to send any oil to the federal government, as it was required to under the 2019 federal budget law. The move put huge financial pressure on the KRG, which had already been hammered by the negative economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In response, it decided to cut public sector salaries by twenty-one percent for anyone making over 500,000 Iraqi dinars per month ($420).

Earlier on Thursday, the KRG Finance and Economy Ministry said that public sector salaries paid out next week will only be cut by eighteen percent, rather than an expected twenty-one percent.

(NRT Digital Media)