Tributes and articles about Yadullah Khosroshahi: on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of his passing (October 28, 1942-February 4, 2010)


Yadullah%20Khosorshahi%20photo%204Today is exactly six years since our colleague and comrade Yadullah Khosroshahi passed away on Thursday February 4, 2010 in London, UK. Yadullah had a brain stroke on 2nd of February 2010. While hospitalized his condition began to deteriorate, and he had a second stroke.

Yadullah Khosroshahi was one of the most renowned activists and leaders of the Iranian workers’ movement in the past 50 years. He spent many years in prisons of both Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was an elected representative of Oil Workers, a former Secretary of Syndicate of Tehran Refinery Workers and former representative of All-Iran Council of Oil Workers. After suppression of workers’ councils and workers’ autonomous organizations by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and spending years incarcerated under this capitalist and anti-worker regime, he was forced to leave Iran. He remained an indefatigable advocate of the Iranian labour movement, and a thoroughly devoted socialist and anti-capitalist, to his last breath. 

Yadullah was an enormously active colleague and representative of the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) since its formation more than 16 years ago.

Yadullah Khosroshi had given many interviews and wrote numerous articles in Farsi on the situation of the workers’ and socialist movements. Unfortunately, his work in English was very limited. Below is a short article from Yadullah, some sympathy messages following his death as well as an article written about Yadullah by one of his comrades. You can find more about Yadullah Khosroshahi on our Farsi website and other online Farsi resources.

In loving memory of Yadullah Khosroshahi 
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) – February 4, 2016


Workers Organizations in Iran Today


By Yadullah Khosroshahi*


 The fundamental problem facing the Iranian labour movement at this conjecture is the obstacles to organization of independent labour organizations on the factory, industry and national levels.

The Labour Law explicitly bans any labour organizations in key industries such as oil, gas and petrochemicals, and metallic industries like steel and copper.  Articles 2, 14 and 15 of the Labour Law recognise only Moslems who follow the Supreme Leader of the Islamic republic and are sanctioned by religious authorities as qualified to be elected to the Islamic Shoras of Labour.  Article 128 allows the Supreme Leader (currently, Ayatollah Khamenei) to assign his representatives to all workers’ organizations with veto power over their decisions.

The existing Labour Law recognises four types of organizations in workplaces: Islamic Associations, Islamic Shoras of Labour, Trade Associations and workers’ representatives.  But before dealing with each of these, a few words about the organization called the Workers’ House is necessary.

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 the Friday prayer in Tehran a group 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 Majles (Parliament), Sarhadizadeh, Minister of Labour, and Alireza Mahjoob, member of the pro-capitalist Islamic Republic Party, 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.

Islamic Associations originated as instruments of the Islamic Republic regime to undermine and destroy factory committees called workers’ shoras in the aftermath of the February 1979 revolution that overthrow the US-backed dictatorship of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.  The pro-capitalist Islamic Republic Party (that was later dissolved into several contending factions within the Islamic regime) originated and organised these Islamic Associations.  After the formation of the special Islamic courts in factories and industries in 1980-1981 (Iranian calendar year 1360), leading members of the Islamic Associations were assigned as judges and played a central role in identifying labour activists and leaders who were then called before the Islamic Revolution Courts.  As a result, thousands of militant workers were fired from their jobs, some imprisoned and other executed.  The Ministry of Labour finished up this wave of attacks on factory councils by outlawing them altogether.

Islamic Shoras of Labour was organized in some factories after the Islamic Majles passed a law with the same name.  The Workers’ House collaborated with the Islamic Associations to eventually organize Islamic Shoras of Labour in 2000 out of 7000 factories in Iran.  These organizations, which are headed by individuals loyal to the Workers House and Islamic Associations, were organized to support state-appointed management.  Article 1 of the Islamic Shoras of Labour states that they are to include all employees and the representatives of management and that they are “powerful arms of management.”  The law stipulates that only Moslems who in practice are loyal to the Supreme Leader can run for the leadership of the Islamic Shoras of Labour.  The Islamic Association, the Committee of the Islamic Revolution, the Workers’ House and the local Friday Prayer imam must approve the candidacy for a leadership position in the Islamic Shora of Labour.  The Ministry of Labour makes the final decision, which will be based on such certifications and letters of support.

Trade Associations have been formed in recent years because the Islamic Shoras of Labour have lost their usefulness for the Workers’ House.  After privatisation of the factories, nationalized in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution, new owners and managers began a campaign to get rid of any organization that, however slightly, interfered with their decisions.  At the same times, the Islamic Shoras of Labour have lost all credibility among workers.  In order to continue their control over the workers’ movement and undermine independent currents within the labour movement, the Workers’ House has established “the Supreme Centre of Trade Associations of Iran”.

At the same time, political forces allied with Iranian president Khatami who are organized in the Cooperation Front, a pro-capitalist grouping of forces that are known as Reformists, have tried to organize a similar organization in workplaces to wield influence among workers.  As a result of a clash between these two currents of the Islamic regime to establish their dominance over the labour movement, their plan to form Trade Associations has not met with much success.

Currently, the Workers’ House is working to reorganize its forces aligned with the Islamic Shoras of Labour into what they call Trade Unions.  However, this attempt is limited to the textile and power industries, and even there, these are paper trade unions with no real membership among workers.

Still, in several trades such as among bakers, cobblers and bus drivers, there are trade associations dating back to before the 1979 revolution.

Workers’ Representatives are individuals selected by the Islamic Associations in some factories who are then introduced to the Ministry of Labour.

In the midst of their worst economic circumstances in over 50 years, the Iranian workers’ movement is engaged in daily battles with factory management, capitalists and the government.  In these struggles, they require, and continually attempt to build their own forms of organization that are effective.  Independent organizations of workers will emerge out of these daily struggles.  They will be independent of the Islamic Republic regime and all government parties, and the organizations that they built since 1979, such as the Workers’ House, to undermine the workers’ movement.  These struggles require and deserve support from workers and their organizations everywhere.

* Yadullah Khosroshahi was the former representative and secretary of All-Iran Central Council of Oil Workers. He passed away in exile on February 4, 2016 in London, UK. This article was first published in April 2002 on Labor Links which was being edited by Yadullah Khosroshahi and Kamran Nayeri.



The Yadullah I Knew: A Tribute to an Iranian Working Class Leader

By Kamran Nayeri, March 7, 2010 

Introduction to the English translation: Yadullah Khosroshahi was a central leader of the Iranian oil workers movement in the 1979 revolution. He died in exile in London of  complications from stroke on February 4, 2010.  The Farsi language socialist journal Arash published in Paris devoted a section of its 104th issue (March 2010) to celebrate Yaddulah’s life and contributions to the labor and socialist movements. The following essay is my contribution entitled “The Yadullah I Knew.”  It is translated from Farsi with slight additions to make it accessible to the English reader unfamiliar with certain individuals, places or events. In the same spirit, the rest of this introduction offers a brief biography. 

Yadullah Khosroshahi was born to a toiling family in Ahmad Abad neighborhood of Abadan known for its oil refinery in Khuzestan province in 1941.  Not only the London-based Anglo-Iranian Oil Company that paid a flat royalty to the Iranian government controlled the oil, during the World War II British forces occupied southern parts of Iran (northern parts were occupied by the Red Army).  Years later, Yaddulah described the conditions in Abadan as a form of apartheid. Workers could not go the the neighborhoods where the British employees of the oil company lived. Violators were arrested and jailed.  While the British had air-conditioning, swimming pools and golf courses, Iranian workers lived in shacks with no running water or swage system and children had to bath in the water collected in the gutters.  At work there was a similar hierarchy with Iranian employees being ranked below the Indian employees.   

However, the crisis that weakened the central government provided a democratic opening for mass movement of the Iranian people, oppressed nationalities (Azarbijanis and Kurds who briefly established their own autonomous governments), and workers, especially oil workers, that lasted for a dozen years.  In 1950 in response to popular demand the Iranian parliament (Majlis) voted for nationalization of the oil industry.  In April 1951, the Majlis nominated Mohammad Mossadegh, who led the nationalist Jebeh-ye Meli (National Front) representatives to become prime minster.  The young Mohammad Rezah Shah Pahlavi who was crowned in 1941, after his father Reza Shah Pahlavi was forced by the Allies to abdicate because of his pro-Nazi sympathies, was forced to appoint Moosadegh to the post.  However, a power struggle ensured Mossadegh and the Shah. On August 19, 1953, the CIA in collaboration with the M16 staged a coup that brought down the Mossadegh government and returned the Shah who had fled Iran in an earlier coup attempt to power.  

During the next quarter of century, Iran witnessed state-directed capitalist development and industrialization combined with increasing autocratic rule of the Shah.  As a result, social dislocations of vast proportion occurred.  Population grew and many displaced peasants circled large urban centers, especially Tehran, with shanty towns. The middle class and the intelligencia grew as modernization and tradition clashed.  The industrial working class more than doubled in size to 3 million. Meanwhile, due to its disastrous political course during the 1941-53 period and the bloody repression that followed the coup, the pro-Moscow Tudeh Party’s influence in the labor movement dwindled.  A new generation of workers began to learn from its own experiences and develop its own leaders. Yadullah Khosroshahi is a prime example of the leadership that emerged outside of the Stalinist orbit in the Iranian labor movement. And this reality explains the key role oil workers general strike played in the 1979 revolution and the emergence of workers shoras (factory councils) in the aftermath of overthrow of the monarchy. 

Yaddulah worked for 13 years at the Abadan refinery where he was gradually recognized for his leadership qualities among oil workers was elected as a union delegate in 1967.  In 1968, he was forced to relocated to the Tehran refinery to keep him away from his base and to keep a closer watch on him.  However, Yadullah was quickly integrated among the fighting layer of the workers who soon took over the exiting management run-union and was elected as one of their leaders in 1969.  In 1972, Yadullah together with other worker-activists establish the Syndicate of Tehran Oil Refinery Workers and he was elected as it Secretary.  In 1973, after brief strike in Tehran refinery oil workers were able to win important benefits including 40 hour week and 25% pay increase.   

Yadullah was arrested three by the Shah’s secret police the SAVAK.  The second time SAVAK claimed to have found “banned books” in his possession and tortured Yadullah severely.  They demanded that Yadullah go before the oil workers and read a “confessionary note” prepared by the regime. Yaddulah agreed. But when he was reading the SAVAK prepared speech he took off his shoes and placed his bloody feet on the table for the workers to see.  The infuriated the SAVAK. He was arrested and after a number of failed attempts to buy him off the regime sentenced him to a 10 years in jail.   

Under the pressure of the mooting mass movement in 1978 Yadullah was freed from jail. He immediately joined the leadership of the oil workers who organized secret strike committees. Oil workers played a central role in the general strike that brought down the military state of siege government and forced the Shah to leave Iran in January. On February 11, 1979 an wave of urban insurrections centered in Tehran brought down the monarchy.    

After the February revolution strike committees in large workplaces were reorganized as factory committees (shoras) as most owners and managers either went into hiding or left the country and a wave of nationalization ensued.  One of the central goals of the newly established capitalist Islamic Republic was to re-establish capitalist authority in workplaces.  For this, it pursued a two-pronged tactic.  First, it encouraged emergence and establishment of Islamic Associations in workplaces to compete with shoras. Later, when the Islamic Associations failed to attract enough support, the regime aimed at establishing Islamic shoras or pressuring existing shoras to into serving as Islamic shoras.  When that happened, pro-regime workers demanded Islamic shoras to followed management and government dictates in the name of “Islam.”  

Again, because of strategic and historical reasons oil workers shoras were central to the shore movement.  When Saddam Hussein’s army invaded oil rich Khozestan province, one its early targets were shoras, they executed leaders of village shoras and by severely damaging the oil facilities, including the Abadan refinery, they in effect undermined the oil workers shoras.  The Islamic Republic used this opportunity to disperse oil workers across Iran as war refugees significantly weakening the oil workers shoras. 

The final blow came after the massive waves of repression in the summer of 1981 and  late 1982 and early 1983. Many shora leaders and activists were arrested and some tortured and executed.  On November 26, 1981, the agents of the Islamic republic stormed Yadullah’s home in Tehran.  They arrested Yadullah, his son and some of his guests including a pregnant woman.  Yadullah spent four years and three months in Evin prison and was routinely tortured.  Unable to link Yadullah to political groups that were in conflict with the Islamic Republic, they released him on February 10, 1986 after posting a hefty bail. However, soon the Islamic Republic agents were after Yadullah again. He escaped to Pakistan. He found political asylum in England after he arrived in London on August 24, 1988. 


However, Yadullah continued his campaign for the working class and the socialist cause.  In early 1990, he helped organized Iranian working class leaders and fighters in exile in the Association of Exiled and Immigrant Workers” that published Kargar Tabeidi (Exiled Worker).  In 1999, he helped organize a conference around the theme “Review of the Iranian Labor Movement in the Past 20 Years and Our Tasks.” Based on agreements reached with a majority of those who attended this conference, Yadullah helped establish Bonyad Kar (Labor Foudnation) that was active for eight years. Later he helped establish Labor Links, a English language newsletter of information and activities in solidarity with the Iranian labor movement and International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran.  In his last years of life, Yadullah witnessed and campaigned for the independent unions of Tehran bus transit workers and of Haft Tapeh sugar cane workers.  He told his friends that “I wish to live long enough to see the formation of an independent labor organization in Iran.” He died in London of complications from stroke on February 4, 2010. He was 69 years old….


 ·       Below are xcerpts of some of the messages and tributes we received following the death of Yadullah Khosroshahi from Iranian labour and political organizations as well as internationally. A more comprehensive list and full texts can be found online especially on our Farsi website.   

Following of the death of Yadullah Khosroshahi, one of the veteran and leading figures in Iranian working class movement on early morning of Thursday 4 of February 2010, many Iranian labour organizations and activists and political parties as well as international labour and left organizations and activists issued various sympathy messages, statements and articles regarding his sudden and untimely death. Yadullah’s outstanding Struggle in nearly five decades has made him a prominent figure in Iranian labour and socialist movement.  The IASWI issued a special edition on Yadullah’s life and his passing. Below are some highlights.  ____________________________________________________________________________