WASHINGTON - June 23 - One week before the June 30th transfer of authority, the Bush administration has failed to create the jobs promised to Iraqis. Out of a workforce of 7-8 million, two million Iraqis remain unemployed.
Calling the continuing high unemployment rate a crisis that undermines efforts to stabilize the country, the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) today urged the Bush administration to support aggressive job creation in Iraq. Dedicated to building a better future for the people of Iraq since 1998, EPIC is working to protect human rights and ensure a successful political transition in Iraq.
Released today, The Iraq Jobs Crisis: Workers Seek Their Own Voice is the first in a series of EPIC reports examining U.S. progress and failures in Iraq.
EPIC believes catastrophic unemployment conservatively estimated at 30% is fueling Iraqs security crisis. While foreign contractors are making windfall profits, millions of Iraqis are unemployed. That is fueling a lot of anger and resentment, which in turn, strengthens the insurgency, says EPIC Director Erik Gustafson. To help restore security and save lives, aggressive job creation should be the number one priority.
As of April, the total number of jobs created by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was only about 395,000. That falls well below the Bush administrations announced goal of 850,000 jobs.
If democratic political stabilization is the goal, getting workers back to work is the paramount economic challenge facing Iraq in the short-term, says the reports author John Howley.
The report also recommends engaging Iraqi civil society in the shaping of Iraqs economy. An Iraqi-American labor lawyer and contributor to the report, Mark Hanna agrees, Despite the enormous economic problems, there is a vibrant union movement in Iraq. The international labor movement and International Labor Organization (ILO) together must demand that Iraqi unions be genuine participants in developing a new Iraqi labor code and ensuring that their rights are secured.
Spokespeople available for comment include:
Erik Gustafson, EPIC Executive Director and a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, Erik visited Iraq in 1998 and 2000 and saw firsthand the impact of Saddam Hussein and UN sanctions.
John Howley, reports primary author and member of EPICs Board of Directors, is the former Director of Public Policy for Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where he worked 1986-2001. John holds a Masters in Economics from the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst.
Mark Hanna, an Iraqi American labor lawyer with Davis, Cowell & Bowe LLP, visited Iraq in February 2004, with an International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) delegation. As an attorney Mark represents international and local unions, individual workers and employee benefit plans. He holds a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
Download the full report at: http://www.epic-usa.org/Default.aspx?tabid=262