International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
IASWI Special Bulletin
WFTU and its Scandalous Relationship with Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran
In this issue:
* WFTU and its scandalous relationship with the “Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran”
* Open Letter from the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company
to 105th Session of the International Labour Conference
* Message of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate to 105th International Labour Conference
* Message of the Alborz Province Painters’ Syndicate (Iran) to the 105th Session of the International Labour Conference
* Mahmoud Salehi’s Open letter to the Executive Committee of International labor organization (ILO)
* Open letters to WFTU and previous relevant documents
WFTU and the affiliation of “Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran”
Ali Reza Mahjoub sitting on the WFTU’s Presidential Council
“Not only Mahjoub is not a representative of Iranian workers, but he is a sworn enemy of the Iranian working class, and an enemy of the international labour and socialist movements, which WFTU also claims to represent.”
There has been a shameful cooperation between the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) leadership and the “Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran” for a number of years. We have in the past condemned WFTU's regretful conduct in consistently failing to support independent labour organizations or independent labour activists in Iran.
During all this period, WFTU not only has not discontinued its connections with state-sponsored, pseudo "labour" organizations of the capitalist Islamic regime, but it has upgraded their membership from provisional to permanent and appointed Ali Reza Mahjoub (General secretary of "Workers’ Houses and a Member of the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Islamic Consultative Assembly) as a member of WFTU’s Presidential Council. According to Mohammad Hamzehei (International vice chair of "Workers’ House") Alireza Mahjoub has become one of the vice presidents of WFTU.
The vast majority of workers and delegates participating in WFTU’s 17th congress in October of this year in South Africa were not aware of Mahjoub's utterly reactionary nature and how he has been a part of the government's repressive security apparatus, doing all he can to oppress and destroy the independent labour movement in Iran. Officials of WFTU and especially WFTU's General Secretary have been fully informed in the past and updated on the criminally anti-labour conduct of Mahjoub and his extensive connections to the Islamic Regime. In response WFTU officials have not shared any of this information with their members about the appalling history of Mahjoub and instead have provided a platform and opportunity for Mahjoub and his government-sponsored organization in their events.
Unfortunately it seems that WFTU's leadership policies continue to be informed by politics of Cold War era and in continuation of rivalry between this labour federation and the ITUC. Such policies and rivalries undermine workers’ real struggles for creation of autonomous and anti-capitalist organizations. The Islamic republic of Iran is not a progressive or anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist government; it’s completely the opposite. IRI is a capitalist regime that has been implementing the most aggressive anti-worker and neo-liberal policies in the recent history of Iran and has persecuted and violently repressed tens of thousands of anti-capitalist workers and socialist activists throughout the ears.
The policies of the leadership of WFTU and their support of the repressive and anti-worker Iranian regime and its “Workers’ House” have resulted in a blatant deception (i.e. affiliation of Workers’ House and vice-presidency of Ali Reza Mahjoub) and a clear undermining of the autonomous labour movement in Iran. WFTU’s leadership and its General Secretary in particular will have to be held accountable for this unprincipled, anti-labour conduct by Iranian workers and their true allies internationally. All international institutions and federations ought to be aware that Iranian working class does not recognize any formation which is created by the totalitarian Islamic Republic, such as so “High Center for Islamic Labour Councils” and “Workers House’, “High Assembly of the Workers’ Representatives” and “High Centre of Workers' Guild Societies”.
Alireza Mahjoub along with Ali Rabiee (the current Minister of Labour) were part of security and intelligent forces that attacked, rampaged and violently took over the autonomous Workers’ House after the 1979 revolution; they were also very active in attacking and repressing independent labour activists and progressive and socialist forces in the aftermath of 1979 revolution. Mahjoub also led the attack on "Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company” (Vahed Syndicate) in May of 2005 and has proudly defended this criminal attack, which was coordinated with the Bus Co.'s security, and resulted in bodily injuries to a number of Syndicate members and destruction of their meeting space.
Independent labour organizations in Iran such as “Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company”, "Iranian Teachers Trade Associations", "Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate", "Painters' Syndicate", "Coordination Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations", "Free Union of Iranian Workers", " the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations",... and their activists have been targets of daily attacks, harassment, persecution and incarceration; mine workers across the country have been flogged in response to their protests, workers were shot to death for demanding regular hours of work, and all sections of the working class in Iran are constantly subject to most repressive responses for merely seeking their very basic rights and liberties. While all these repressive measures against Iranian labour activists have been taking place, Ali Reza Mahjoub, as a Member of Parliament and political ambassador of the capitalist Islamic regime of Iran, enjoying all government resources, freely participates in international gatherings in the name of Iranian workers, misleading his audience and distorting the circumstances of workers in Iran. Mahjoub and other mercenaries of "Workers’ House" are responsible for directly attacking independent labour activists in Iran and promoting reactionary and fascist politics, including promotion of xenophobic, racist slogans against Afghan migrant workers in Iran; they are systematically against labour solidarity in Iran and have done all they can to destroy formation of real worker organizations in the country. Not only Mahjoub is not a representative of Iranian workers, but he is a sworn enemy of the Iranian working class, and an enemy of the international labour and socialist movements, which WFTU also claims to represent.
IASWI will actively continue to protest the presence of Islamic regime's representatives in international labour gatherings. We also strongly demand the expulsion of these government sponsored, repressive, pseudo "labour" formations from ILO, WFTU or any other international labour organization, including recent efforts by “High Assembly of the Workers’ Representatives” to join ITUC through building connections with the ITUC- Asia Pacific . We urge all independent labour organizations in Iran and all affiliates of WFTU in different countries to also condemn WFTU's officials’ cozy relationship with the repressive Iranian regime and demand the severing of all connections with Islamic regime’s so called "Workers’ House" and Ali Reza Mahjoub. IASWI shall further expand and augment our international campaign in this regard.*
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
*Attached are some previous statements by IASWI and a number of independent workers’ organizations in Iran.
Open Letter from the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company
to 105th Session of the International Labour Conference
With warm greetings,
As you are well aware the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Co., which is the largest metropolitan bus company in Iran, initiated its trade union activities by utilizing syndicalist educational workshops concerning workers' rights for drivers and workers in 2004. From the very beginning we have faced pressures and threats against our members from employers, Islamic Labour Councils, agents of “Worker’s House” and government’s security forces. On May 9th 2005 elements of Worker’s House and Islamic Labour Councils in a coordinated assault swarmed our meeting location in broad day light while police and security forces were watching their illegal actions. Despite all pressures and threats we held our general membership election, after 27 years, on June 3, 2005. During the above general membership assembly, our board members were elected by thousands of our members' votes and members delegated the board to pursue the accumulated demands of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company’s workers. But because of management's refusal to address the legitimate grievances of TSBC's workers and drivers the syndicate was forced to organize two strikes in February and March of 2006. During these strikes, which were unprecedented in the past thirty years, more than three hundred drivers and workers were arrested. All the arrested members were expelled from their jobs based on cooperation of Islamic Labour Councils, which are controlled and funded by “Worker’s House”, with company’s management. Most of these expelled workers were returned to work after six months because of syndicates' persistent endeavors and defense work, except forty-nine members, which included board members and syndicate activists. And even out of these forty-nine, all but one were able to return to work after having being expelled from work, for four to six years. During 2006 and 2007 a number of syndicate's board members were sentenced to extensive or suspended sentences by revolutionary courts because of their syndicalist activities. But syndicalist activities continued nonstop and despite all duress and hazards syndicate members never stopped our endeavors in support of expelled colleagues and solidarity for our fellow workers, though all members were constantly under pressure from elements of management and security forces.
In this report we should also mention Mr. Reza Shahabi a board member of our syndicate was arrested in 2010 while he was on the job, driving a bus; he was violently assaulted in front of bus riders and incarcerated in Evin prison's ward 209. After spending nineteen months in solitary confinement he was given six years of suspended sentence, banned from any union activities for five years and a financial fine of seven million Tomans by branch 15 of the revolutionary court. Due to extensive physical stress and tortures during interrogations, Mr. Shahabi suffered from back and neck dislocation and has had to go under surgery twice. After enduring prison for five years he is currently under medical leave of absence based on coroner's recommendation. It should be noted that during his long incarceration Mr. Shahabi had to resort to hunger strike, four separate times, in protesting lack of medical attention to his deteriorating health conditions and the growing numbness of the left side of his body. His last hunger strike, to protest against his exile to Rajaee Shahr prison, lasted fifty-two days. Mr. Shahabi was prosecuted again in January of 2015 based on charges of "propagating against the system," and sentenced to a year in prison, and this verdict was upheld in an appeals court. At the moment he has no source of income and is experiencing very hard circumstances; his multiple attempts to return to work through following up with the Labour Ministry has had no results. But Iran’s Ministry of Labour has reported to ILO that Mr. Shahabi has been released from prison and is back to work, which is totally untrue and baseless.
In 2015 only two days before the International Workers’ Day, two board members of Vahed Syndicate Messrs. Ebrahim Madadi and Davood Razavi were arrested. Mr. Ebrahim Madadi, vice chair of syndicate, has been repeatedly arrested solely because of his labour activism and was sentenced to three and half years of imprisonment, which he completed in Evin prison. He was arrested again by security forces on April 29, 2015 in his house. After spending twenty-two days in solitary confinement and posting a bail of hundred million Tomans he was freed from Evin prison's ward 209. On April 16, 2016 he was prosecuted again but his sentence has not been announced yet. Mr. Davood Razavi is another syndicate member that was arrested along with Mr. Madadi on April 29, 2015. Security forces invaded Mr. Razavi's residence at midnight, arresting him in his house and sent him to Evin prison's ward 209. Mr. Razavi was freed after spending twenty-two days in jail, by bailing a bond of hundred million Tomans. He was again prosecuted on January 13, 2016 by branch 26 of the revolutionary court on charge of syndicalist activism and given a jail sentence for five years. This sentence was rebuked by his attorney and is now in the appeals process. The presiding judge has openly stated that the sentence against Davood Razavi is solely due to his continued syndicalist activities and his endeavor in pursuing the demands of TSBC's workers and drivers, his participation in rallies in front of Tehran's City Hall, his participation in May 1st event and participation in the rally in front of Labour Ministry demanding fair wages for workers.
During the past few years despite syndicate's non-recognition by the government and all the repressive measures, incarceration, threats and expulsions the Vahed Syndicate has achieved significant achievements and noteworthy contributions for our members in particular and for Iranian labour movement in general; which will be briefly mentioned below:
- Efforts to provide proper and affordable housing for drivers and workers, keeping in mind that over five thousand of TSBC employees lack adequate housing. We have been able to partially achieve this goal through repeated rallies dedicated to issue of housing for our members in front of Tehran's City Hall and Tehran's City Council, which has resulted in obtaining housing units, and housing benefits, for some of our members. This is an on-going initiative.
- We have also conducted a campaign for wage increases, which has occurred in two wage increases, after a campaign to classify job positions. Vahed Syndicate has been able to secure enhancement to housing subsidies and other work benefits for workers’ recreation, two sets of work clothing, milk and cake for workers' breakfast, regular cash and non-cash monthly bounces….
- A significant and lasting achievement of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company has been raising workers' awareness about their fundamental rights and the right to have independent organizations within the Company and across the country.
- Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company is the first independent labour organization in Iran that was formed after twenty-seven years and as such is considered a significant historical achievement in our country’s labour movement.
Pursuing the legitimate demands and the rights of our members has resulted in persistent repression of our union representatives by security forces. As a result, many of our members have been targets of expulsion from work, including but not limited to:
- Mr. Hasan Saeidi has been expelled five times from his jobs due to his labour activism.
- Four of our members; Ms. Farahnaz Shiri and Messrs. Hasan Saeidi, Vahid Feraydouni, Naser Moharamzadeh have been expelled from their positions for more than four years now, but due to Labour Ministry's and security forces’ collusion they have not been able to go back to their jobs.
- Another syndicate member Mr. Hossein Karimi Sabzevar has been expelled from his position since 2005, only because of his labour activism and Ministry of Labour has prevented him from returning to his previous position.
- Two other members of syndicate, Messrs. Akbar Pirhadi and Hasan Karimi who were originally expelled in 2005 were finally able to return to work after six years of efforts by syndicate's and their own numerous attempts, but unfortunately none of their unemployment and severance benefits which they were qualified to receive was paid to them because of Labour Ministry's disapproval. Although the Ministry of Labour is obliged by the law to protect workers' interests not only it does not pursue any grievances from workers but constantly reports false and untrue information and reports to ILO.
The Ministry of Labour and its elements are adamant to impose Islamic Labour Councils, which are thoroughly the puppets of the employers and directed by the government and have no support among workers and rank and file, as representatives of Iranian workers. Despite all the numerous documentations provided by syndicate members on various frauds committed by Islamic Labour Council within Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, yet the Ministry of Labour has failed to take even a single action against them and keeps on insisting that these pseudo elements which are directed by the management and security forces be treated as workers' representatives instead of syndicate delegates.
All the evidences and cases cited here are clear and egregious violation of internationally recognized and respected workers’ rights and ILO’s conventions, which Iranian government claims to abide by whenever it participates in international gatherings. But in practice Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company and all other independent labour organizations in Iran are deprived of even the most basic workers’ rights. Workers in other sectors are also faced with unbearable circumstances and any protest is answered through severe repression. Most recent examples are how mine workers in Bafgh and Khaton Abad have been arrested and tried. And, only a few days ago seventeen mine workers from "Agh-Dareh" gold mine in West Azarbaijan province were flogged in public as a punishment for their protest against job losses.
Our least expectation from ILO and the International Labour Conference is to seriously and strongly reprimand all representatives of Iranian government that participate in ILO gatherings and question them for the gross violation of workers' basic rights in Iran. We demand pursuing all our grievances, regarding violation of our syndicate’s members' rights, submitted to your organization. ILO ought to also pursue the cases of continued harassment and prosecution of Iranian teachers and all other labour activists in Iran. Once again, we declare that none of the individuals or organizations that have so far participated in ILO's conferences under the title of workers or so called "workers' representatives" (i.e. “High Center for Islamic Labour Councils” and “Workers House’, “High Assembly of the Workers’ Representatives” and “High Centre of Workers' Guild Societies”) are legitimate or true representatives of Iranian workers; they are government sponsored entities and should not be accredited as "workers' representatives" or "labour delegation".
With special thanks.
Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company
June 1, 2016 (Khordad 12, 1395)
cc: ITF; The French Workers' Collective in Support of Workers in Maghreb and Middle East (CGT, CFDT, UNSA, SOLIDAIRES, FSU), LO-Sweden, Transport Workers’ Union in Sweden, and other concerned trade union organizations internationally.
Message of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate to 105th International Labour Conference
On the occasion of ILO’s 105th Conference and the presence of Iranian delegation in that gathering we are obliged to disclose a few points on the status of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate, which is a registered member of IUF global federation. Unfortunately, due to repressive and police state atmosphere imposed on independent labour activists and extensive legal prosecution of vanguard workers and their organizations and members, it is not possible for us to legally pursue our legitimate grievances. Thus the board members of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate have taken the decision to inform you of our conditions and requesting from you to take necessary actions in accordance with conventions of ILO regarding independent labor organizations and to ask “delegates” from Iran including the Minister of Labour to act accordingly in order to address these issues.
The Iranian government is a signatory of ILO and as such required to be in compliance with ILO’s fundamental conventions, “even if they have not ratified the Conventions in question, have an obligation arising from the very fact of membership in the Organization to respect, to promote and to realize, in good faith and in accordance with the Constitution, the principles concerning the fundamental rights … including freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining”. However, in Iran all activities of independent labour organizations are prohibited and their members are severely prosecuted, expelled from work and incarcerated. We are calling for the respect of conventions 87 and 98, and strongly urge ILO to compel the Iranian government to respect and abide by these basic and internationally recognized norms.
We also demand that all expulsion orders against board members of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate be revoked and they all be reinstated to their previous positions. It should be noted that the claim by Islamic Republic’s delegates at previous ILO Conference, in 2010, that Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate board members have not been imprisoned or expelled from their jobs is not true whatsoever. After hearing this untrue statement, we tried to pursue our case through Islamic Republic’s Ministry of Labour, but no one in there responded to any of our requests and we could not reach any conclusions. In addition to being expelled from our jobs, towards the end of 2010 all board members of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate were forced to pledge not to undertake any further labour activism or be faced with renewed legal prosecution if any of us ever becomes engaged in syndicate activities again.
The track record of Iranian government as it has dealt with Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate or other independent labour organizations in general, and as it has treated the board members of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate in particular? is a blatant and egregious violation of all ILO’s fundamental conventions and especially conventions 87 and 98, which emphasis the right to form independent labour organization and the right to organize and collective bargaining.
We are calling on ILO and 105th international Labour Conference not to be silent about violation of workers’ rights in Iran and hold the Iranian government accountable for violating all the basic rights of us workers.
Board members of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate
June 1, 2016 (12 Khordad 1395)
Feridoun Nikoufard, Jalil Ahmadi, Ramazan Alipour, Mohammad Haydari Mehr, Rahim Basak, Ali Nejati.
Cc: The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)
Message of the Alborz Province Painters’ Syndicate (Iran) to the 105th Session of the International Labour Conference
In addition to thanking you for the opportunity given to the Alborz Province Painters’ Union, as far as possible, we would like to be the voice of all militant workers and the Iranian labour movement, even though we are a small part of it.
The founding committee of the union was formed in secret with the help of the late Shahrokh Zamani, and after forming its committees and recruiting members, the union began its activities on January 30th 2015 at a general assembly of about 380 people. The idea behind the Painters’ Union, just as any other independent trade union, is to realise the most basic and essential of rights for workers in this trade: insurance, job security, wage parity, recognition of technical skills and so on.
We mainly have to begin with the sad and recurring fact that the true representatives of the workers’ movement are not able to attend this Conference. This is because they are serving their prison sentences or are on hunger strike; or are out on medical leave from prison to receive treatment; or have been left in a state of uncertainty after their sentences were suspended. Some workers are even on the brink of being whipped, a medieval sentence for the ‘crime’ of involvement in trade union protests.
But this dire situation of the protesting workers and independent labour activists is nothing new, and at least eleven years ago, at the time of the International Labour Conference in 2005, activists of Iran’s independent labour organisations made many efforts to inform international trade unions and labour organisations involved in the ILO Conference about the plight of their fellow workers in Iran, and to get some solidarity action, or even symbolic action, to help them. In 2005 the Vahed Bus Company Syndicate’s activists, i.e., the elected and true representatives of that company’s workers, were attacked and beaten up by the “Worker’s House” and Islamic Councils’ thugs. But a few weeks later, while the Vahed union’s activists were in prison (!), the Iranian government sent the same thugs to your Conference as representatives of Iranian workers.
Despite eleven years of activity aimed at founding independent labour organisations, there has been no qualitative change in the situation of workers and independent labour organisations in Iran. On the one hand, there are still people from institutions such as the Worker’s House, the Supreme Council of Workers’ Deputies, the Supreme Council of Trade Associations and Islamic Labour Councils, who pose as workers’ representatives while participating in ILO (and similar organisations’) meetings. Not only are they not Iranian workers’ elected representatives but they have been the main and direct agents of the repression of Iranian workers’ struggles. On the other hand, independent labour activists and the genuine representatives of Iranian workers, those who with their persistent struggles over thirty-something years have attempted to found genuine organisations so that the continued attacks of the capitalist state can be neutralised and basic rights of independent unions (including the right to strike, health and safety improvements and wages increases so that workers’ families can have a life beyond poverty) can be achieved, are in prison.
Considering that for nearly two decades the Iranian government has justified its crackdown on the labour movement and workers’ basic rights (as well as all the oppressed layers of society) based on the threat of war and invasion, in the 10 months since the signing of the nuclear agreement we have not seen any improvement in Iranian workers’ situation. The improvement in diplomatic and trade relations has only lead to an increase in luxury goods in the shops and luxury cars in the streets! The dire economic situation of workers has continued and has become worse. Even just a few indices clearly show this:
* About 90% of the country’s workers are on temporary contracts, of which 67% are on temporary contracts with a date. The rest are on ‘blank contracts’ or have no contract at all (National Workers’ House Deputy).
* More than 7 million workers earn less than 812,000 toman (about $266) a month (Secretary of the Trade Associations).
* More than 60% of workers are forced to have two jobs (Head of “High Centre of Workers' Guild Societies”).
* Every day four people in Iran die due to work-related accidents.
* Unemployment is the main cause of suicides and suicide is most prevalent among high school graduates (Chief of Ministry of Health’s Mental Health and Addiction Office). The rate of internet searches of suicide terms is growing in the country. According to Google, every month the word ‘suicide’ is searched more than 22,000 times - without taking into account the relevant phrases such as ‘suicide training’, ‘painless suicide’ and ‘suicide methods’.
* Last year 30,000 people lost their lives due to drug abuse (Deputy of the Counter-Narcotics Headquarters).
* Every day in Tehran seven children are born as drug addicts. Some parents sell their own children, the price of these children varies from 2 to 25 million toman ($656 to $8207).
The Iranian government’s simple answer to this situation is to remove the problem: either to shoot protesting workers (like the killing of Morteza Farajnia, an unemployed worker protesting in Behbahan, on November 15th 2015), or turning an industrial dispute into a criminal offense (with sentences including flogging, imprisonment and payment of cash fines, as with the 17 gold miners of Agh Dareh in West Azerbaijan Province, with complaints by the employer) or arrest and intimidation of activists.
Only in the past year at least 66 labour activists were arrested across the country: including the arrest of three labour activists in Sanandaj, one arrested in Tabriz, three workers in Tarzeh (Semnan), 10 labour activists in Asaluyeh, one labour activist in Tehran, 35 labour activists in Kerman, 12 labour activists in Dorood (Lorestan) and one labour activist in Bandar Lengeh.
Other tools of repression include suspended sentences or conditional releases that put labour activists in a position of uncertainty. This applies to Valeh Zamani, a member of the Alborz Province Painters’ Union, who is currently out on bail.
The Iranian government tries to suggest that any trade union action or workers’ protest is an act against national security, propaganda against the system and a crime. This procedure allows the state to take any arbitrary action. Many of the detainees have been abused, faced threats and extreme violence in prison. Last summer Shahrokh Zamani, a member of the founding board of the Syndicate of Building Paint Workers and the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations, died of unknown causes in Gohardasht prison. So far the authorities have given no explanation and have remained silent regarding his death.
The Iranian government has not even signed conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) and 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining), so that it does not have any legal obligation to comply with them!
Instead it has set up organisations, which have no history other than co-operating with the security institutions and informing them about labour activists, co-operate with them and have a direct role in the repression of workers’ protests, holding bogus workers’ rallies in support of the factions in power, racist propaganda and demonstrations against Afghan migrant workers, especially on the International Labour Day; collusion with representatives of the bosses and the government in the Supreme Labour Council to impose on Iran’s workers a minimum wage that is four to five times below the poverty line.
In addition to these additional pressures on workers and independent workers’ organisations, state and government institutions are trying to impose on workers bogus and compliant organisations; organisations that without any vote by workers and without any independent election mechanisms have come into existence (with some of them existing only on paper), so that they can work at the international level and at meetings of international organisations and the ILO to gain legitimacy for the government.
Issues and topics mentioned in the above paragraphs show parts of the real life situation of the working class and its vanguards in Iran. The facts prove the opposite of claims made by Iranian officials at international gatherings that workers’ rights are observed. Considering these gross and limitless abuses against workers’ rights in Iran, we adamantly demand that agents of the Islamic Labour Councils, the Workers’ House and other state and anti-worker organisations, i.e. “High Assembly of the Workers’ Representatives” and “High Centre of Workers' Guild Societies”, are prevented from being present at the ILO Conferences, and also that the current ban on the presence of genuine representatives of Iranian workers is lifted.
In the hope that all workers and independent labour organisations in Iran will be able to send their genuine representatives to the ILO Conference, we end our message with this question: considering that ILO constitution emphasises the independence of labour organisations, and that Iran’s independent labour organisations have for a long time protested about the presence of bogus workers’ delegates, what excuse or justification can still be given for the presence of the Iranian government’s representatives and the ILO’s appeasement policy towards them?
Alborz Province Painters’ Syndicate (Iran)
June 1, 2016 (Khordad 12, 1395)
CC: Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and other concerned labour organizations internationally.
From: Mahmoud Salehi
TO: International Labor Organization May 26, 2016
Open letter to the Executive Committee of International labor organization (ILO)
The official gathering of the ILO takes place on May 30th, 2016. The ILO was founded upon documents that sets labor standards including 1) setting working hours 2) setting working days and weeks 3) setting working conditions and contracts 4) combating unemployment 5) setting wage levels to ensure a decent living in accordance to modern standards 6) protecting workers against medical and professional illnesses 7) protecting workers against workplace injuries 8) protecting women, young and child laborers 9) supporting those unable to work as well as retirees 10) affirming the principle of equal pay for equal work 11) organizing professional labor trainings 12) supporting migrant workers as well as other principles that advances the interest of laborers.
The ILO is obligated to organize its membership meetings on a yearly basis. ILO, the only tripartite United Nation agency, brings together governments, employers and workers representatives of 180 member States. This year the aforementioned organization has invited 300 State representatives, 160 employers’ representatives, and 160 workers’ representatives. The three parties involved also have 900, 400, and 500 councillors respectively. The main decisions made at these annual events depends on the opinion of the executive members composed of 28 State representatives, 14 worker representatives as well as 14 employers’ representatives.
One of the main organizing bodies of ILO is the International Labour Office, which is the permanent secretariat ILO. Under the authority of the ILO’s governing constitution, the Office obligated to compile reports on the member States of the ILO on the basis of their compliance with the rules and regulations set therein. This report is submitted to the Executive Committee of the ILO as well as to its general body during its annual meeting. The office also has commissions that deals with problems and complains filed by employers and workers against member States. This complains have to be evaluated and submitted to the general body of the ILO.
The representatives member States are obligated to make the International Labour Office aware of their activities within their States. This includes an obligation to inform the Office of the submissions of its reports and declarations to the member State’s Executive Branch for the purpose of domestic ratification.
However, workers in Iran, including myself, are unaware of the report compiled by the Iranian State’s representative to be submitted to the International Labour Office.
Iranian workers are aware that most of the ILO member States are in non-compliance with its labour regulations. Since I am from Iran and I currently live in Iran, I would like to bring to the attention of the general body of the ILO, few instances of the violations of its declarations and labour regulations by my country.
Iranian workers recognize that the ILO is aware of violations and some State’s non-compliance with its rules and regulations. Yet, I, as a disabled worker who receives about 830 thousand Tomans, alongside the majority of workers in Iran who if happen to be lucky and receive their wages without lengthy delays and without cuts, live with minimum-wage salaries, affirm that our country refuses to ratify and comply with any of the declarations it has signed abroad into its domestic legislations.
On various occasions and by various means, the Iranian workers have repeatedly contacted the ILO to inform the organizations of the violation of labor regulations in Iran. However, each time these complain was ignored by the general body of the ILO and we have not seen or heard any results in the ways in which these complains were handled.
We are well aware that the State representatives present at the ILO’s annual events do not report the real struggle of the Iranian laborers to you. In fact, we believe that these State representatives, who are carefully chosen by the Iranian government, not only misrepresent the Iranian laborers but also may directly be responsible for the non-compliance of the Iranian State with ILO’s labor regulations.
Are you aware that the State representatives do not report the struggles of the Iranian workers to international organizations? If you are aware, why will you not attempt to compile accurate reports by the real representatives of the Iranian workers? Some of these workers currently imprisoned or are treated with heavy prison sentences for representing the struggles and demands of workers in Iran. At least, you could attempt to contact independent media outlets, not state sponsored media, about the difficult working conditions of Iranian workers. These are the questions that are in the minds of Iranian workers: If the State representatives are unwilling to accurately represent the demands and struggles of the Iranian workers, why will you not use various technological means available to you and reach out to them directly about the difficult conditions in which they live in? Are you aware of the heavy prison sentences given to workers simply for demanding their rights, including the timely payments of their salaries? Are you aware that some of these workers are given prison sentences as well as cruel and corporal punishments? Are you informed that tens of workers are arrested simply for demanding employment? Are you familiar with the Imprisoned workers Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and Reza Shahabi? Are you aware that even after they served their sentences, on the basis of new but false accusations, they are given repeated prison sentences? Are you aware that teachers in prison are protesting against the court procedures in which they were condemned to prison sentences? Some of these teachers are now in a hunger strike demanding that they would be tried in a public court rather than in private sessions.
Furthermore, are you aware that Jafar Azimzadeh is now under a life-threatening hunger strike protesting his unjust sentence of 6 years imprisonment under the accusations that he acted contrary to national security?! Are you aware that tens of other workers, all of whom are arrested with unsubstantiated charges including “acting contrary to national security” are given heavy imprisonment sentences? Among these workers I can name the following: 1) myself, Mahmud Salehi, with 9 years of conditional sentence 2) Osman Ismaeli 1 year conditional sentence 3) Jamil Mohammadi 3 years imprisonment 4) Hadi Tanuman 3.5 years of conditional sentence 5) Qasim Mustafapour 3.5 years of conditional sentence 6) Ibrahim Mustafapour 3.5 years of conditional sentence 7) Jamal Minashiri 3.5 years of conditional sentence and 8) Mohammad Karimi 3.5 years of conditional sentence. Currently these workers are discharged under bail and are awaiting the final decisions of the appeal court. Let me inform you that the only reason these workers were arrested and imprisoned was because they attempted to form independent syndics and workers’ assembly!! Are you not aware of the countless protests that happens on the streets, and factories and workplaces, against the violations of workers’ rights in Iran?
Dear Executive Director and members of the general assembly of the ILO,
Given of the tripartite structure of ILO that brings together the majority of state representatives as well as employers in its general assembly, some of who are directly responsible for the exploitation of workers, it is not possible for this organization to seriously consider enforcing or at least following up on its declarations in support of workers and labourers around the work. Indeed, workers have come to the conclusion that tripartite structure of the organization, which is endorsed by those who have an interest in perpetuating and continuing exploitation in society, is working against the demands of workers worldwide. It is a surprise that the ILO has turned into a decorative organization whose declarations and resolutions are continuously ignored even by its own members.
Address: Saqez, Kurdistan, Iran
Shohada Street at Shaykh Shaltoot, 32 Shabnem alleyway
Postal code: 6681115343
Home phone: 009836230975
More background information: This IASWI special bulletin is prepared to widely share open letters issued by three of the most prominent and remaining independent labour organizations in Iran (i.e. Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate, Alborz Province Painters’ Syndicate). We have also included an open letter by Mahmoud Salehi, one of the most prominent labour activists in Iran.
The above workers’ syndicates (called Sandika in Iran) have been formed within the last decade in Iran despite severe repression of independent workers’ movement organizations. The formation of these organizations has contributed significantly to the growth of Iranian labour movement and the articulation of its demands in recent years. That’s why we have witnessed ongoing attempt by the Iranian government and its agents to silent and crush these genuine labour organizations and their activists.
IASWI once again reiterate the demands of the Iranian labour movement that “none of the individuals or organizations that have so far participated in ILO's conferences under the title of workers or so called "workers' representatives" (i.e. “High Center for Islamic Labour Councils” and “Workers House’, “High Assembly of the Workers’ Representatives” and “High Centre of Workers' Guild Societies”) are legitimate or true representatives of Iranian workers; they are government sponsored entities and should not be accredited as "workers' representatives" or "labour delegation". We further call for their immediate expulsion from the International Labour Conference.
Joint May Day Resolution of Independent Iranian Workers’ Organizations – May 1, 2015
Today, we have come together in solidarity at a time when a large and united movement of workers, teachers, nurses and other toiling masses in Iran is in the process of formation around the issue of subsistence and ending poverty and squalor.
The occurrence of tens of workers’ strikes around the country, endless gatherings of teachers, united protests of nurses and the expansion of workers’ struggles in the form of participation by family members at protests, petitions, gatherings in front of the parliament and Ministry of Labor and daily protests in key industries such as petrochemical, mining and automobile production, all reveal aspects of the objective development of this social movement. By creating powerful, united and nationwide protests, this movement aims to challenge the absolute lack of rights and deprivation imposed on millions of working class families.
This movement is gaining ever broader dimensions under the following circumstances: The capitalist system which rules Iran is the scene of a struggle over how to plunder a larger share of our wages. It cannot and does not want to put an end to the existing unbearable situation. That is why it has ratified a monthly minimum wage of 712,000 Tomans ($235) and shamelessly congratulates us on such a humiliating wage. It ferociously steals from this meager and shameful wage by not paying it on time, by cutting subsidies, increasing prices daily, removing the controls on the price of bread, and imposing a 9% value added tax on staple good. By repressing justified labor protests, holding mass trials of protesting workers and sentencing them to flogging and long prison terms, it aims at forcing the Iranian working class to submit to the present situation and to something even more miserable.
There is no doubt that imposing increasing poverty and squalor on millions of working class families and further intensifying the repression against labor protests will not create an escape for the capitalist system that dominates Iran. Rather, workers and all of Iran’s toiling people are being challenged to enter a defining battle against the existing situation. Soon, in the face of such lack of rights, repression, desperation and hopelessness concerning the inability to earn our basic subsistence, the boiling anger of Iran’s workers and toilers will weaken the ground on which the agents and perpetrators of this situation stand. Thus, we the undersigned warn against the continuation of the policies which impose poverty and squalor, and the unprecedented intensification in the repression of labor protests. In denouncing the continuation of such policies, we state our demands as the following and insist that these demands be met:
1. We condemn the 712,000 Toman ($235) monthly minimum wage which has been imposed on the working class through a puppet show involving the government, managers, so-called labor representatives and the deceptive atmosphere created by official and government media. We strongly demand an immediate revision of the official minimum wage and its increase to 3,000,000 Tomans ($1000) per month based on the cost of a consumer basket of goods and services according to modern living standards.
2. We wholeheartedly defend the justified and relentless protests of teachers and nurses. The unity and oneness of the struggles of all Iranian toilers and the increasing manifestation of this unity as a social and nationwide struggle is the only way to end the existing deprivation. We call for the immediate realization of all the demands of teachers and nurses.
3. We strongly condemn the efforts of the government and the House of Labor*(Workers’ House-official labor union) to impose state-sponsored unions on Iran’s working class. These are so called unions which are organized from above through the creation of guilds and so-called associations. We call for the creation of syndicates, councils and independent labor organizations by workers at worksites, demand an end to any prohibition and limitation on the creation of these organizations, and oppose the intervention of the government and managers in these organizations.
4. We strongly condemn any repression of labor and popular protests. We condemn widespread executions and abominable verdicts which call for flogging and long prison terms for protesting workers, or impose inhuman conditions on imprisoned labor activists and other prisoners. We demand an immediate end to executions, the abolition of the death penalty and flogging, the immediate and unconditional release of all workers and political prisoners, and an end to legal proceedings against them.
5. The unconditional right to strike, protest, march, assembly, freedom of speech, opinion, association and press should be recognized as self-evident and irrevocable social rights of workers and all the people of Iran.
6. Workers’ unpaid wages must be paid immediately and without any excuses. Any delay in the payment of wages must be subject to legal action, and workers must be indemnified for any damages caused by such late payment.
7. We demand guaranteed job security, an end to enslaving temporary labor contracts, and “blank check” contracts [which include no rights and benefits for workers—tr.], the elimination of temporary labor and labor contracting agencies, the extension of labor law protection to all workers employed by small workshops and all workers employed in free enterprise zones, and the introduction of immediate insurance coverage for construction workers.
8. We strongly condemn the ratification of any anti-labor legislation under any title. By pointing out the existence of anti-labor articles in the existing labor law, we demand that it be changed through the intervention of genuine representatives of workers.
9. We consider the daily increase in the number of deadly and injurious workplace accidents to be the result of the managers’ unreal expectations, the profit motive, and the obliteration of workers’ most basic human and social rights. We demand the immediate enforcement of the highest safety standards at the workplace.
10. The expulsions and layoffs of workers under any pretexts have to be stopped. All who are unemployed or have reached the age of employment and are not employed, should benefit from unemployment insurance compatible with modern living standards.
11. All laws which discriminate against women should be abolished immediately. Complete and unconditional equality of women and men in all arenas of social, economic, political, cultural and family life should be recognized.
12. All retirees should benefit from a comfortable life, and any discrimination or inequality in the payment of pensions and benefits should be removed. While we insist that one of the government’s main responsibilities is to provide free healthcare as a fundamental right of the people of Iran, we demand the reversal of the plan to combine the social security fund with universal healthcare. We call for the immediate and public prosecution of those who have plundered this fund. This fund should be placed under the control of representatives elected by public assemblies of employed and retired workers, without any influence from the government and managers.
13. Any form of child labor should be absolutely abolished. Children regardless of sex, economic and social status, national, racial and religious identities, should benefit from complete social security, free and equal educational opportunities, health benefits and amenities.
14. We demand the removal of any discrimination against migrant Afghan workers and other nationalities in Iran, and call for an immediate end to their expulsion and the granting of citizenship rights to this group of fellow class members.
15. By emphasizing the exploitative nature of the capitalist system around the world, and by expressing our appreciation for the solidarity which international labor organizations have extended to the struggles of Iranian workers, we declare our support for labor protests around the world and stress the need for international labor solidarity.
16. We condemn the escalating war and killings in the Middle East region. In our view, this horrible situation, the unprecedented rise of terrorist organizations and the policies of terror in the countries of the region are caused by the dead end which capitalist relations have reached in their failure to satisfy the needs of human beings today, and by the anti-human policies of western and regional governments. By calling on workers and all freedom-seeking people around the world to protest against war and destruction in the Middle East region, we demand an immediate end to this war.
17. May Day or International Workers’ Day should be declared an official holiday. All restrictions and limitations on ceremonies commemorating this day should be abolished.
The following labor organizations are the signatories of this resolution: The Free Union of Iranian Workers; Kermanshah Electrical and Metal Workers’ Guild; Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate; Alborz Province Painters’ Syndicate; Center for the Defenders of Workers’ Rights; Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations; Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations .
Open Letter to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU)
Stop collaboration with
Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran
March 13, 2011: We are writing this open letter to once again strongly condemn the WFTU leadership’s collaboration and close relationship with the Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Islamic Labour Councils, which are both notoriously known to be government-sponsored repressive organizations.
We have been informed that representatives of the Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been invited to attend the WFTU’s 16th World Trade Union Congress, Athens Greece, April 6-10, 2011. This will be considered a big slap in the face of the Iranian labour movement and independent workers’ organizations in Iran and their activists who are being incessantly persecuted and imprisoned while Workers’ House’s representatives are walking freely and travelling abroad with the full-backing of the capitalist Islamic regime of Iran. The WFTU leadership must stop this disgraceful practice immediately. The working class of Iran will never forget the collaboration of the WFTU leadership with the Iranian government and their agents at the Workers’ House.
We wrote the open letter attached below to the WFTU in October 2007 and since then we have been sending news and campaigns about workers’ rights and struggles in Iran and on the plight of Iranian labour activists who are imprisoned, sacked and persecuted to many of WFTU affiliates and its headquarters as well. We, among many other progressive labour organizations in Iran and abroad, have been issuing numerous statements about the Workers’ House’ anti-worker/ pro-regime character. We strongly believe that there are no more excuses for the WFTU leadership to continue their collaboration and friendly relationship with the Workers’ House. Unfortunately, the WFTU’s leadership has decided to disregard our letters and also the protests of other Iranian labour activists against their collaborations with the Workers’ House of the brutal and anti-worker regime in Iran.
We once again assert that labour gatherings and congresses must be places for the real and genuine representatives of workers and not government-sponsored, anti-worker individuals and establishments such as the Workers’ House and its delegates.
We are calling on all affiliates of the WFTU, many of whom have been supporting independent labour movement in Iran despite the official position of the WFTU, to pressure the leadership of the WFTU to severe all their ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran and its so called “Workers’ House”.
Please see the statements below for more information; or contact the following persons:
(President, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 4772) ***
cc: WFTU affiliates, and labour, progressive and anti-capitalist organizations in Iran and other countries.
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
Open Letter to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU)
Re: the WFTU’s Relations with Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran
As you are well aware, a WFTU Delegation visited Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran (WH) on July 16-20, 2007. The photos of this visit can be seen at the WFTU website*. This is not the first time WFTU and the Workers House have been engaged in friendly relationships. WFTU seems to have established an ongoing close relationship with WH. WFTU has previously extended invitations to the WH to attend its conferences as a representative of the Iranian working class. It’s not even the first time an international labour federation has made such attempts to build close relationships with the WH. Each time however such attempts have received strong reactions by Iranian labour activists in Iran and abroad. WFTU too has previously received numerous letters regarding its unacceptable relationship with the WH. WFTU thus already knows very well that the Workers House is simply an instrument of the Islamic Republic of Iran and employers. It’s not even a trade union, independent or not, by the furthest stretch of the imagination. It’s an ideological group formed by the Islamic Republic of Iran for controlling Iranian labour movement. We and others in Iranian labour movement had previously sent WFTU information about WH that proves that WH is a means of controlling and suppressing independent labour activities and organizations in Iran. The Iranian labour movement undoubtedly sees the Workers House and the Islamic labour Councils as puppets of the Islamic Republic**.
Workers in Iran have been struggling tirelessly, despite ever-increasing repression, to form various independent organizations to demand the freedom of association and the right to organize and strike and other internationally recognized workers’ and human rights. Iranian workers are denied the right to form any independent organization and those who act to form one are fired, persecuted, arrested and imprisoned or exiled. Time and time again, workers and progressives and anti-capitalists in Iran have declared that the Workers’ House is not a labour organization and it does not represent workers at all. The expulsion of the Workers’ House delegations from all international gatherings has been a major demand of Iranian labour activists in Iran and abroad.
WFTU and US Military Intervention in Iran:
We recognize and value the fact that the WFTU has repeatedly opposed war and imperialist militarization by the United States and its allies against countries like Iraq and Iran, etc. The WFTU is absolutely right in its position that economic sanctions and war would primarily (and the most drastically) affect working people. WFTU is also right to state that the US and its allies have used the pretext of the struggle against terrorism to attack and restrict democratic and trade union rights under the pretext of war on terror. A position based on the working class interests, however, must go way beyond this. The Iranian working class and the independent labour movement in Iran strongly oppose war and militarization in the region and around the world. In the context of the current confrontation between the US and its European allies and the Iranian government, i.e. nuclear power and so on, the Iranian labour movement is holding an independent position because this is not the working class conflict. The Iranian working class strongly opposes all kinds of arms races and nuclear weapons in all countries without exception. In term of war on Iran, the Iranian labour movement strongly and unequivocally opposes any military intervention or sanctions against Iran, because it’s not only unacceptable and inhuman under any pretext, its main victims are always working people and their families. At the same time, the Iranian labour movement does not allow the Iranian government to use the threats of war and sanction as a pretext to continue, and intensify, persecuting, arresting, dismissing, kidnapping and jailing Iranian labour and progressive activists. Let’s make it clear once and for all, the Islamic republic of Iran is not an anti-imperialist force; it’s a cruel capitalist government, which is fully implementing the neo-liberal policies of global capitalism. Moreover, it’s a regime that has been jailing and killing tens of thousands of labour and women’s rights activists, students and socialists and other progressive forces in Iran. Moreover, we have said this repeatedly that the United States government, which in collaboration with corporations and industries has for years stripped workers of so many of their rights and protections, as the most dangerous nuclear and military power and the only government ever used the atomic bomb against people and its invasion of Iraq brought absolute disaster for the Iraqi people, has no credibility whatsoever on any of these issue. A progressive working class stance not only proactively opposes any attempts to pursue war or economic sanctions against Iran, it ought, at the same time, support the workers’ struggles against the repressive government and capitalists in Iran who are forcefully implementing the most aggressive anti-worker and neo-liberal policies in the country’s contemporary history.
What needs to be done for workers’ rights in Iran?
Just six days before WFTU mission’s arrival in Tehran to visit WH, Mansour Osanloo, the president of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, was kidnapped by plain clothes agents in the evening of Tuesday, July 10, 2007. Later on, he was transferred to the notorious Evin prison and has been kept imprisoned there since then. As you should remember, Osanloo’s tongue was cut by a knife used by the Workers’ House executives when members of Workers’ House and Islamic Labour Council, with the support of security forces and the Vahed Bus Company, violently attacked the meeting of the Bus Workers’ syndicate of Tehran in May 2005. Mahmoud Salehi, a prominent anti-capitalist labour leader in Iran, has been imprisoned in Sandanj’s prison without the right for proper medical treatments. His health since imprisonment has been severely deteriorated and his family and colleagues are extremely worried for his life.
The WFTU calls for the establishing and the free functioning of Trade Union organisations in every country. It is absolutely undeniable that In Iran, in addition to the government, a main barrier for establishing free labour organizations is the Workers’ House and its so called Islamic labour councils.
We are therefore calling on WFTU and its affiliates to immediately stop WFTU’s friendly relationship with Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We are urging the WFTU to engage in a meaningful dialogue with independent labour activists in Iran and pro-actively support the following resolution in support of the Iranian labour movement in any possible ways you can.
Proposed Resolution in Support of workers in Iran
WHEREAS the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), has imposed deplorable political, economic and social conditions on workers and impoverished strata of society;
WHEREAS Iranian workers have consistently witnessed the imposition of anti-labour and neo-liberal policies and practices of government and employers and;
WHEREAS the IRI dismantled independent workers' councils and syndicates, which were set up democratically and freely by workers in various sectors and industries after the 1979 revolution, and identified activists of such organizations, tried them for framed up unfounded charges in sham courts, expelled many from their workplace, and arrested and executed others;
WHEREAS the Iranian government created "Islamic Labour Councils" and “Workers’ House” in order to control workers and suppress independent workers' organizations;
WHEREAS workers in Iran continue to be deprived of the right to organize and strike and frequently face persecution, arrests and imprisonment –the persecution of the activists of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company and imprisonment of Mansour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi and arrests and prosecution of other labour activists for organizing efforts or May Day activity are just some known examples and;
WHEREAS, the US Administration’s drive to wage war against countries including Iran has been a pretext for massive attacks on labour, civil, immigrant, and human rights;
WHEREAS sanctions and military intervention in Iran will be disastrous, inhuman and totally and unacceptable under any pretext and its main victims will surely be the working people of Iran, ordinary women, men and children.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the WFTU and its affiliates strongly support the rights of Iranian workers to freely set up their independent workers’ organizations and;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the WFTU calls for immediate and unconditional freedom of Mansour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi and all jailed labour activists;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that WFTU and its affiliates refuse any recognition of the “Islamic Labour councils” and “Workers’ House”, which are set up and backed by the government authorities and employers, in the name of Iranian workers.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that as part of the worldwide struggles against capitalist globalization and neo-liberalism, the WFTU will work with independent labour movement in Iran to strengthen worker-to-worker solidarity;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the WFTU takes a strong and proactive stand against any attempts by the US government and its allies to pursue sanctions and military interventions against Iran.
International Relations- International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran
(Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 4772)
cc: labour, progressive and anti-capitalist and anti-war organizations in Iran and other countries.
*WFTU Website, Photos: http://www.wftucentral.org/
**Workers’ House- A brief historical background:
Workers’ House (Khaneh Kargar) was founded under the old monarchical regime. In the early 1970s, Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hovayda organized the only legal political party in Iran, called the Rasstakhiz (Resurgence) Party. Connected to this instrument of monarchical dictatorship was the Workers Organization of Iran headed by the chief of SAVAK (the secret police agency) General Parnianfar, Minister of Labour, one senator and two representatives of Majeles (the lower house of the monarchical parliament). After the February 1979 revolution, workers took over the offices of the Workers’ Organization of Iran and renamed it Workers’ House. This was a centre for activities of independent workers shoras (councils) and syndicates (trade unions). In September 1979, after a Friday prayer in Tehran a group of government agents armed with clubs attacked the Workers’ House and took it over from workers. Ali Rabbiei, Assistant Director of the Organization for Information and Security of the Islamic Republic, Hossein Kamali, an engineer and a representative in the Parliament and soon after the minister of labour, Sarhadizadeh, Minister of Labour at the time, and Alireza Mahjoob, member of the pro-capitalist Islamic Republic Party (now the head of Workers’ House and a Member of parliament), formed the central leadership of the “occupied” Workers’ House. They registered the Workers’ House based on a political constitution supporting the pro-capitalist agenda of the Islamic Republic regime….
*** For identification purposes.
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
October 14, 2007
Open Letter to
Congress of WFTU – T.U.I. Transport
Brazil December 10-11, 2007
From: International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran
To delegates and participants in the Congress of TUI Transport in Brazil,
As you may be aware, another wave of threats, oppression, attacks, assassination, arrests and imprisonments against labour activists in Iran have been taking place in recent months. Imprisonment of Mahmoud Salehi, a founding member and former president of the Saqez Bakery Workers’ Association and the spokesperson for the Coordinating Committee to Form Workers’ Organisation, Mansour Osanloo, the president of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Ebrahim Madadi, the vice-president of the syndicate of bus workers of Tehran, prosecution of Seyed Davood Razavi, also an executive board member of the syndicate of bus workers, assassination attempt against Majid Hamidi a labour activist in Iran’s Kurdistan, ever-growing persecution, intimidation and arrests of leaders of labour protests and strikes, including that of Haft Tapeh sugar cane factory whose representatives, Ghorban Alipour and Mohammad Heydari Mehr, have been incarcerated; all this are just small illustration of the anti-worker actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran in recent months.
Congress of TUI Transport which will be held on December 10 and 11, 2007, in Bello Horizonte, Brazil, in the name of millions of workers and in defense of their rights, is obligated to support the Iranian workers’ rights and struggles as well.
We are asking Congress of TUI Transport in Brazil to issue an open statement with the following demands:
- Condemn the Islamic Republic of Iran for the persecution and arrests of labour activists.
- Demand the immediate and unconditional freedom of jailed labour activists, including Salehi, Osanloo, Madadi, Alipour and Heydari.
- Support free and an unconditional establishment of workers’ independent organizations in Iran.
- Support the demands and struggles of the transport workers organized by the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company.
- Condemn any threats of military action or economic sanction by imperialist states against Iran.
In the end, we strongly protest against and condemn the presence of representatives of Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is an anti-worker, government-sponsored organization, in your congress. We declare that labour gatherings and congresses must be places for the real and genuine representatives of workers, i.e. the representatives of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company as your colleagues in transport sector, and not anti-worker individuals and establishments such as the Workers’ House.
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran
Labour organizations and activists in Iran and around the world
June 6, 2016
To: Mr. Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO)
We gathered outside International Labour Conference once again today to raise our voices in support of the workers’ movement in Iran and to protest against repressive and anti-worker Islamic regime of Iran.
The life and livelihoods of workers under the rule of the Islamic Republic of Iran is disastrous. Their wages which are already four times below the poverty line are often in arrears for many months. Widespread lay-offs and unemployment is continuing on an on-going basis. Temporary work contracts have been enforced on the vast majority of workers. The number of Iranian child labourers are estimated at 7 million. Many industries have collapsed and their work-force have joined the long line of more than 5 million unemployed. There is no hope of secure employment or a bright future for the youth. There are no laws protecting the rights of migrant workers. The vast majority of workers, teachers, nurses and other working people live in poverty, with women being subject to even worse conditions of sexual discrimination, doubling the oppression on them.
On the other hand, the looters ruling Iran are busy ravaging the land. Every day we hear about another multi-million-dollar theft committed by regime elements. Once in a while there's a show trial and a low level thief is sacrificed, but the process of looting and theft goes on uninterrupted. Powerful Mafia gangs of power and wealth monopolize our country's finance and economy, dealing in all trades; from Oil and gas to steel, petro-chemicals, "sex industry" and anything that is profitable for them. They also control all pension funds, national banks, benefits funds and operate them as they please without being accountable to anyone. The totality of Islamic Republic is composed of these looting mafia gangs. The differences and disputes within this thoroughly corrupt and criminal government is only over who attains more power and wealth and only naive people are fooled with their claims. Such unbearable circumstances have been continuously going on for the past thirty-seven years and made the situation worse for Iranian workers and toilers on a daily basis.
But Iranian workers, teachers and toilers have not been silent towards these inhuman conditions and have utilized any opportunity they get to protest against all this inequality and injustice. They know that society's wealth and affluence is created by their hands, and consider it their inalienable right to enjoy a decent life worthy of human beings. Through their courageous and consistent protests and endeavours they have demonstrated over and over again that they seek to fundamentally alter these inhumane and repressive circumstances; they are organizing to remove all obstacles preventing them from having their own independent organizations and are aiming to materialize and establish equality, freedom and justice through their solidarity and self-organization.
Meanwhile the suppression of independent workers organisations, expulsion, arrest and imprisonment of worker activists and workers elected representatives continues unabated. Workers’ protests are confronted by savage assaults of the oppressive forces, leading to imprisonment and beatings. Here are only a few such examples:
* At this time Jafar Azimzadeh, Chairperson of the Board of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, who is currently serving a six years prison sentence for workers’ rights activities, is enduring the thirty seventh day of a hunger strike. His life is in grave danger.
* In Takab (West Azerbaijan province) 17 of 350 Agh Dareh Gold Miner workers protesting against their collective expulsion were sentenced to receive hideous floggings and financial penalties. This sentence was carried out in the month of May. The 17 miners were flogged in public on their bare backs.
* Workers’ rights activists, Mohammad Jarahi and Behnam Ebrahimzadeh are still behind bars. A further group of workers activists and teachers, Mahmoud Salehi, Reza Shahabi, Esmail Abdi, Mahmoud Beheshti Langaroodi, Davood Razavi, Ebrahim Madadi and many others have either been sentenced to imprisonment or are waiting for their verdicts.
* Violation of basic workers’ rights and violation of International Labour Organization Conventions by the Islamic Regime of Iran continues unabated.
As part of our action today, we highlighted the most urgent demands of Iranian workers to the delegates at the 105th session of the International Labour Conference. In particular we are bringing to everyone’s attention that the individuals and organizations taking part at this conference in the guise of Iranian workers delegate are not representatives of Iranian workers (i.e. “High Center for Islamic Labour Councils” and “Workers House’, “High Assembly of the Workers’ Representatives” and “High Centre of Workers' Guild Societies”). They are organisations created and controlled by the Iranian government. They have a direct hand in the suppression and monitoring of Iranian workers’ activities. We oppose their attendance at the ILC and strongly oppose ILO’s collaboration with them. ILO has also been critiqued by all independent labour organizations in Iran for allowing and perpetuating the legitimization of the agents of the Iranian regime.
We demand the immediate expulsion of these so called delegates from the International Labour Conference. Independent workers’ organisations must be established by workers themselves. The state, employers and intelligence services and security forces should have no rights to interfere in these activities. Workers’ rights to organize, assemble, strike and protest must be formally recognised.
Finally we are calling on the ILO to strongly condemn the barbaric flogging sentences against workers in Iran and to pressure the Iranian regime to stop this brutal and torturous practice altogether. We also call ILO for urgent action to save the life of Jafar Azimzadeh by taking all necessary measures in order to releasing him immediately from prison. .
Organising Committee of June 6th Demonstration - Switzerland
1. International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran - Switzerland
2. Unity of Iranian Democratic Forces- Switzerland
3. Iranian People's Struggles Defence Committee- Switzerland
Outside ILO Conference in Geneva
(In front of the Palais des Nations-Geneva)
Against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its agents who are attending the International Labour Conference as “Workers’ Delegates”?
Free All Jailed Worker Activists Now!
Monday, June 6, 2016 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Under the Islamic Republic of Iran the situation of workers and the majority of people in Iran have been worsening significantly. Thousands of Political prisoners have been executed, tens of thousands labour, political and social activists have been prosecuted, tortured and endured lengthy prison sentences, and many have lost their jobs and livelihood. There is absolutely no freedom of expression in the country unless you belong to one of the factions of the Islamic regime. Job security has completely diminished, and for more than 90 percent of the workforce precarious contracts and temporary jobs have become the bitter reality. Poverty level has expanded and includes many sections of the working class including teachers and other public employees. None payment of wage, ever-growing child labour, political repression, arrests, and systematic imprisoning of labour activists who struggle for the most basic and internationally recognized rights of the workers, suppression of women’s rights and severe discrimination against migrant workers particular Afghan immigrants continue incessantly in Iran.
Within such context, we are witnessing that each year representatives of the capitalist Islamic regime of Iran attend the International Labour Conference as “worker representatives”. This is while real worker’ representatives are in jails or continually harassed and prosecuted. The right to organize and strike is denied by the regime and all independent worker organizations are tyrannized.
We are calling on all workers’ and progressive organizations internationally to protest against the continued violation of workers’ rights in Iran, and to pressure ILO to break its inaction and collaboration with these government-sponsored agencies and take all necessary measures in support of the rights and demands of the Iranian labour movement and the genuine workers’ organizations in Iran.
- Unconditional freedom of all incarcerated workers; including Jafar Azimzadeh, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and Mohammad Jarahi.
- The immediate withdrawal of all charges against labour activists in Iran including security charges against well-known labour activists and teachers such as Mahmoud Salehi, Reza Shahabi, Davood Razavi, Ebrahim Madadi, Esmail Abdi, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi and other arrested and prosecuted workers.
- An international investigation by the international workers’ organizations in order to investigate the killing of the renowned labour activist, Shahrokh Zamani, in Gohardasht prison on September 13, 2015 and to examine the workers’ situation in Iran without any restrictions by the Iranian regime.
- Expulsion from International Labour Organization of the so called “worker representatives” sent by the Regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the name of workers, i.e. “High Center for Islamic Labour Councils” and “Workers House’, “High Assembly of the Workers’ Representatives” and “High Centre of Workers' Guild Societies”. Only the genuine workers’ representatives’ must be invited to the ILO conferences and other international labour gatherings.
- The rights of the immigrant workers are to be recognized in Iran and the mistreatment, and abuse of Afghan workers residing in Iran must be stopped.
- Recognition of all of the internationally recognized workers rights including the right to organize, strike, freedom of expression and independent celebration of the International Workers’ Day.
- Recognition of equal right for women and an end to all forms of discrimination and social, economic and political inequality in workplaces and the society at large against women.
- Application of all international conventions on forbidding child labour; and condemning the Islamic Republic of Iran for the violation of all international conventions including conventions on child protection, women’s rights, and the right to organize.
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
Solidarity Committees with Iranian Workers’ Movement-Abroad
They are not real Workers' Delegates:
They are delegates of the Iranian Regime
Delegate: OLIYA ALIBEIKI, Head, High Coordination Centre for Islamic Labour Councils (A govern-sponsored group. Someone that calls himself a “Soldier of the Velayt-e Faghigh”)
Adviser and substitute delegate:
Gholamreza ABBASI, Advisor, High Coordination Centre of Trade Unions
CHANGIZ GHASSEMI, Advisor, High Coordination Centre for Islamic Labour Councils.
ABOLFAZL FATHOLLAHI, Advisor, High Coordination Centre of Trade Unions.
SEYED MOHAMMAD YARAHMADIAN, Advisor, Confederation of Iranian Workers Representatives.
MAJID FIROUZABADI, Advisor, Confederation of Iranian Workers Representatives.
MOHAMMAD HAMZEH, Advisor, Worker's House.
ALIREZA MAHJOUB, Secretary General, Worker's House (Workers’ House has been directly involved in repression of workers and labour activists in the past two and half decades).
*As you may recall, Within the last few years many independent labour organizations and activists in Iran have been sending open letters to the ILO conferences, in which they have addressed the very difficult social, economic and political conditions afflicting Iran's workers and emphasized that Iranian workers are living and working under great hardship and adversity. They have even addressed various violations of the Iranian Labor Law, which supposedly include some of the ILO's conventions. They highlighted a number of urgent issues including the official wage rates, which is four time below the poverty line, continued privatization and liberalization of the Iranian economy, which have resulted in massive joblessness, depletion of industrial production and a growing corruption and income and wealth gaps.
Discrimination in employment based on gender and religion and the country of origin is another seriously problematic aspect of the labour relations in Iran. Many workplaces consistently refuse to hire anyone from religious minorities. Afghan workers are constantly under the harshest working conditions. They are being treated oppressively by employers and government officials. The latest attacks on Afghan and other migrant workers come from the “Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and its Islamic Labour Councils. These government-sponsored organizations continue to be sending delegates to the ILO conferences in the name of workers of Iran but are engaged in one of the most racist and discriminatory practices against Afghan workers in Iran. At their May Day event this year, they carried large banners and placards demanding the expulsion of Afghan workers blaming them as the cause of the ever-increasing unemployment in Iran.
It is an internationally well-known fact that women in Iran are subject to various types of discrimination in education and employment. Different directives prevent them from certain professions altogether. Women’s aggregate rate of employment is still below 15% of the total workforce. In fact, women's rate of employment was reduced to under 12 percent last year and their unemployment rate is above 43 percent. Last year, a third of working women who used maternity leave of absence were subsequently fired from their positions. Specifically from 145,000 women who took off for six months from work due to pregnancy 47,000 were fired. There are about 5000 cases of grievance by women workers due to such illegal firings. In addition, IRI's parliament last year passed a controversial law further institutionalizing Gender-Apartheid and formally separating women from men at various work sites.
These are clearly violation of fundamental conventions particularly convention No. 111. However, “Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations” prepared for the 104th Session of the International Labour Conference, in June 2015, suggests that there have been improvements to the application of the Convention 111 in Iran. This is very shocking to us and all workers and independent workers’ organizations in Iran and we have to question the root causes and political motivations behind such reports.
Part II of the above report, on page 14, states that “A high-level mission was undertaken by the Office from 4 to 8 May 2014. The objective of the mission was to assess and discuss with constituents and other stakeholders issues relating to discrimination against women, and religious and ethnic minorities, their equal opportunities with respect to education, training, employment and occupation, and relevant legislative matters. The mission also had the opportunity to discuss the latest developments concerning freedom of association in the country and possible solutions and the way forward with the Government and the social partners.” And part I of the report on page 260 states that the above high-level mission “held extensive discussions with representatives of the Government, workers’ and employers’ organizations and other stakeholders.”
We have to emphasize that this is news to workers and independent labour organizations in Iran. No real labour activist or independent worker organization in Iran, was approached, contacted or otherwise consulted in any form or shape during this “High-level mission’s” visit to Iran in May 2014. “The “workers’ organizations” referred above are universally known to be government agencies and are part of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Therefore, such meetings with these bodies have no legitimacy from the perspective of workers and independent organizations in Iran.
Regarding Conventions 87 and 98, although the IRI has not ratified these two conventions, its government, according to various replies to the ILO’s standards’ committee, claims to be committed to the protection of labour standards and freedom of association. And there are other conventions that obligate the IRI to concurrently respect the basic rights of workers stipulated in Conventions 87 and 98. However, workers in Iran are not seeing any improvement in their conditions especially when it comes to their right to organize for their most basic demands.
In particular, regarding the FOA’s Case Number 2508, which is related to persecution, prosecution and oppression of members of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company no considerable improvements, contrary to the responses of the IRI to the ILO, have been observed. In fact, we have witnessed worsening trends. As you know, Mr. Ebrahim Madadi was recently arrested, along with Mr. Davoud Razavi, and they were released on 100 million toman bail after 22 days of detention. They will most likely face new trials. Reza Shahabi is currently on medical leave, but he was prosecuted and sentenced to additional imprisonment in recent months for an incident related to the security forces’ brutal attacks/raids on political prisoners in Evin Prison on April 17, 2014.
The Vahed Syndicate submitted a request to the Ministry of Labour on May 30, 2015 in which they stated that “Drivers and employees of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company re-established their Syndicate after holding their general assembly on Khordad 13, 1384 (June 3, 2005); since then they have repeatedly attempted to facilitate the conditions for holding another general assembly to elect new executive board members but each time this was not possible due to pressures from intelligence forces. Therefore, the Vahed Syndicate is requesting that the Ministry of Labour, which is also expected to be a custodian for creation of a favorable atmosphere for the formation of independent trade unions, to assign and announce a place for holding a general assembly of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company Syndicate”. However, on June 1, 2015, Mr. Delavar Nazari, the Director General of Workers’ and Employers’ Organizations at the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Welfare told ILNA that according to the provisions of Chapter VI of the Labour Law, workers are only allowed to form one of the three organizations: Islamic Labour Councils, trade associations, or electing a worker representative. Mr. Nazari continued that “On this basis, according to the conditions foreseen in the labour law, no other labour organization under the name of Syndicate is authorized to function in workplaces subject to labour law.”
Delavar Nazari’s response clearly demonstrates and reaffirms that this government does not intend to recognize independent workers’ organizations and their responses to the complaints related to the Freedom of Association are merely to satisfy the ILO’s procedures without in deed committing themselves to any structural changes with sustainable and positive improvements in favour of independent worker organizing.
The attached IASWI Special Bulletin also highlights the new waves of arrests and prosecution of labour activists in Iran and the continued imprisonments of many other activists for the past five years. In fact, unlike the claims stated in the above report, under the government of Hassan Rouhani we have witnessed ever-increasing neo-liberal and anti-worker policies and increased harassment of workers and labour activists in Iran. The Rouhani government is as much committed to the capitalist system and its inhuman casualties as the previous governments of the IRI.
As far as the so called representatives of the Iranian workers at the ILC are concerned,
the IRI claims that the “three most representative workers’ confederations” are “the Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions”, “the High Council of Workers’ Representatives” and “the Confederation of the Islamic Labour Councils”. However, as it has been countless times stated loud and clear by various organizations and activists within the Iranian labour movement, the above groups are in no way endorsed by Iranian workers' syndicates and other independent worker organizations. These are institutions whose bylaws and programs are set by the labour ministry. Even “representatives” of workers must also pass the requirements of the labour ministry, in order to qualify as a “delegate.” These organizations and their representatives fully and publically support the entire establishment and the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran; their delegates openly call themselves “Soldiers of Velayat- Faghih”.
It is long overdue that the credentials for these so called “worker representatives” of the Islamic Republic of Iran be revoked entirely. We reiterate the demands of our fellow workers in the independent Iranian labour movement that these so called “labour representatives” must be expelled from the ILC and replaced by real workers and their independent organizations.
Finally, we would like to raise serious concerns about the recent waves of arrests and persecution of labour activists across Iran, from Tehran to Kurdistan. We have well-known labour activists like Mahmoud Salehi, who has almost lost his kidneys, while in solitary confinement within the last few weeks. We have workers like Yousef Abkharabat who is losing his eyes because the prison authorities refuse to allow him treatment outside prison because he is not “cooperating” with them. We have well-known workers like Shahrokh Zamani, Mohamamd Jarahi, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and Rasoul Bodaghi, who have been suffering for years in brutal and notorious prisons of the IRI on frame-up charges only because they have been standing for the most basic rights of workers. That’s why it is crucial that the plight of these workers is highlighted at the ILC and urgent calls are made for their immediate and unconditional freedom.
*Addressed to the ILO and ILO Workers’ Groups
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
The International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) is a progressive, non-partisan and non-sectarian campaign in support of workers’ rights and struggles in Iran. The IASWI was formed in 1999 and formally launched in January 2000 with the following objectives:
* To support workers' struggle in Iran for better working conditions and living standards;
* To advocate for workers' movement demands in Iran, including the right to organize independent labour organizations and the right to strike;
* To strive for an absolute end to the systematic repression, persecution, imprisonment, torture, assassination and execution of labour activists and political opponents in Iran;
* To promote the implementation and enforcement of internationally recognized human and workers' rights and freedoms for all people in Iran.
The IASWI has been working in collaboration with many labour and progressive organizations and activists in Iran and around the world to strengthen worker-to-worker solidarity in defence of workers’ rights and struggles in Iran and against the repressive Islamic Republic of Iran.
As an international labour solidarity campaign with anti-capitalist framework in support of workers in Iran, the IASWI has colleagues and branches in North America, Europe and other parts of the world that strive collaboratively towards the realization of the above objectives.
The IASWI is fully independent and does not receive funding from any governments or government-affiliated organizations or corporations. All our solidarity efforts and fundraising initiatives are conducted by Iranian labour activists in exile and other fellow workers and labour activists in different countries.
IASWI Special Bulletin, November 2016 www.workers-iran.org