figures indicate different statistics concerning the number of foreign workers
in Iraq, but various government and private institutions agree that the number
of foreign workers have increased significantly in recent years.
The foreign workers have reportedly dominated the important sectors, most notably oil, which led to a rise in the unemployment rate among Iraqis.
Basra Parliament Member Oday Awad asserted earlier that there are 3,000 foreign workers in oil companies operating in the province's oil fields, most of whom are not licensed and did not obtain residency documents.
The Justice and Development Organization of the Middle East and North Africa expected earlier in December the outbreak of a mass popular uprising in various Iraqi provinces against price hikes, the deteriorating economic situation of the middle class, rising poverty and the high unemployment rate among Iraqi youth.
Although the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs does not have specific figures on the number of foreign workers, parliamentarians have revealed that their number exceeds one million workers.
President of the General Federation of Iraq Trade Unions Walid Naama said in press statements that foreign workers in Iraq are estimated at 600,000 workers.
Foreign employment in Iraq contributed to the deterioration of the Iraqi labor market and led to low wages, he said, explaining that foreign workers make the work for a lower wage, which caused an increase in unemployment rates.
The head of GFITU blamed the Ministry of Labor for not monitoring and controlling foreign employment in order to curb such phenomenon.
The Ministry of Labor has 13,000 registered foreign workers working in the oil and investment sector, spokesman of the Labor Ministry said. The Ministry does not have clear figures for workers from East Asian countries and others who have entered Iraq over the past years through religious tourism, or specialized companies, he added.
Oil Minister Thamir al-Ghadhban announced that a delegation from the US oil company ExxonMobil would arrive in Iraq to discuss the return of the company's employees to work in Basra's West Qurna field.
The employees of the Basra Oil Company are able to produce oil and gas in the West Qurna field, Ghadhban said, affirming that the withdrawal of ExxonMobil staff from the field will not have a negative impact on the project.
The ministry sent a letter to the company asking it to being back to work immediately its employees, according to the long-term contract between the company and the Iraqi government, Ghadhban said.
Thirty employees from ExxonMobil earlier withdrew towards the company's offices in Dubai for reasons that the company described as "precautionary" after the escalation of the dispute between Washington and Tehran.