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Letter by three independent Iranian labor organizations to the annual meeting of ILO

In May 2013, three independent labour organizations in Iran sent an open letter to the ILO’s 102nd conference which took place in June 2013 in Geneva. In this letter, signed by Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers’ Syndicate, Mechanical Metal workers’ Syndicate and the Founding Board of Painters’ Syndicate, the difficult economic conditions afflicting Iran’s workers were highlighted and was emphasized that Iranian workers are living and working under great hardship and adversity. They addressed violation of Iranian Labor Law, which supposedly include some of ILO’s basic conventions. They highlighted a number of urgent issues including the following:
 
1- The official wage rates, which should have been adjusted for 35% inflation rate (as stated by central bank officials), is pegged ten percent less, only at 25%. Even Mr. Ahmadi, a member of the Iranian “Supreme Labour Council” has criticized these inadequate measures. He states: “In the past twelve years minimum wage increases were less than central bank’s official inflation estimates” (ILNA- 20, March 2013). This is a clear violation of Article 41 of our Labor Code and 12th Clause of the 3rd Amendment of   our constitution, and also Article 95 of your basic covenants. In addition to inadequate wages we also suffer from a nation-wide practice of non-payment of wages.  Some of the most recent instances have been:
 
– Demonstration of about hundred workers from Mazandaran Textile in front of the parliament  ( 2, October  2012) on behalf of all 800 workers in the factory who have not been paid for 27 months.
 
– 1300 workers’ protesting from Safa Pipe factory in Saveh (12, December 2012) had not been paid for six months.
 
– A member of parliament, Mr. Mahjobi estimates the number of workers suffering from un- paid wages is around 200,000.
 
2 – As far as employment is concerned, continued privatization and liberalization of our economy have resulted in depletion of industrial production. Many small shops connected to auto industry have been closed. Even high ranking members of chamber of commerce, Mr. Hamzeh Darvadi, admit that:”Official statistics from government sources are not reliable.”  According to Dr. Mardokhi, an economist, “Goals of increasing employment were not fulfilled, and women’s meager share of employed workers did not reach beyond 15 %.” Last year, ILNA had reported of 200,000 unemployed workers, closure of 300 industrial production centers. Another 1000 workers were laid off from Jabal industries in Hormozgan province and 550 from Alvand Lights factory in Ghazvin.  These are violation of 2nd Clause of article 43 of our constitution and ILO convention 122.
 
3- Discrimination in employment based on gender and religion could be observed in all food processing factories. These factories consistently refuse to hire anyone from religious minorities. Women are also subject to various types of discrimination in education and employment. Different directives prevent them from certain professions altogether, such as Mining Engineering. According to Dr. Mardokhi “women’s aggregate rate of employment is still only 15% of the total workforce”. These are violation of articles 19 and 20 of our constitution and ILO convention No. 111.
 
4- In discussing issues of equal wages for equal work Mr. Afshin Habibzadeh observes that ;” In small shops with less than ten workers, women workers’ are paid less than average rate, which is at times even half the official rate.” Not only women are subject to less pay, they are often sexually harassed at work as well, but due to prevailing social norms, and fearing their reputation they refuse to complain and file charges. There is no official statistics for this category. Women are also the first to be fired from jobs. … Increase in work related injuries and fatalities are also another neglected issues of working class in Iran. Two major reports on industrial safety in Iran state that, there were about 1795 work related incidents for last year (Iranian year 1391):  a ten percent increase compared to the year (1390) before.
 
5- Currently many labour activists are incarcerated. Messrs Reza Shahabi of Bus workers syndicate, Mohammad Jarahi and Shahrokh Zamani of the board to reopen painters’ syndicate, Pedram Nasrollahi, Khaled Hossaini, Ghaleb Hossaini, Behzad Farjollahi, Reza Ghadery, Ali Azadi, Hamed Mahmoudnejad, Rasoul Bodaghi, Abdolreza Ghadiry, and Abdolreza Ghanbry are all currently  incarcerated. Three workers from Bus workers’ syndicate: Messrs Nasser Mohrmzadeh with 14 years seniority, Hassan Saiedi with 13 years seniority, and Vahid Feraydoni with 9 years seniority was expelled due to their labor activism. Behnam Khodadady and Najim Majidzadeh were also expelled from their jobs because of their activism. These are clear violations of Covenants 87 and 98 of your organization.  
 
These independent labour groups also emphasized that “at the present moment groups supposedly representing Iranian workers are sent in a delegation to your conference; they are in no way endorsed by Iranian workers’ syndicates. The institutions responsible for sending this delegation to your conference 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 “delegate.” These are the same individuals that endorse a minimum wage four times below the poverty line, a minimum wage opposed by thirty million Iranian workers. Minimum wages fourth of the poverty line is nothing but a death sentence for working class families, and anyone supporting it has no place within Iranian toilers. We respectfully and sternly request that your organization pursues addressing violations of Iranian workers’ human rights, and refuse to accept these so called “labour representatives.”
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