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Solidarity message to ITF Congress 2018: Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company

Friends, comrades, and delegates at the ITF congress held in Singapore October 14-20, 2018,

With most sincere and warm salute and solidarity from our Syndicate, we hope that this congress will mark yet another step toward the achievement of workers’ and the working class objectives worldwide.

As you know, it was not possible for our representatives to join the congress, but we’d like to express our solidarity with our fellow workers.

Ever since the resurgence of our Syndicate back in 2004 we have tried our best to achieve the workers’ rights and demands in Iran. Unfortunately, the Iranian government, by denying the most basic rights of the workers’ to establish their own independent organizations, and by undermining the international working class achievements, has responded to our syndicate with every suppressive measure possible – from prosecution, arrest and interrogations, to firing and imprisonment. Yet, we are determined to carry on our activities and resist the status quo, and we shall continue with all our strength for the common interests of the working class.

Comrades and fellow workers!

As you already know, we work under exhausting security conditions. Our activists have been subjected to all kinds of surveillance and harassments throughout the years. Reza Shahabi, a member of our board of directors, was imprisoned for more than six years under grave and unprecedented pressure and torture which resulted in serious damage to his health. ITF, the ITUC, and other workers’ unions’ internationally have launched numerous complaints since 2005, some of which are available in the freedom committee of ILO, but the Iranian government authorities still prevent him from returning to his job and they have banned him from any union activity for two years, even though the legal term of his imprisonment is already over. Ebrahim Madadi and Davood Razavi are other members of our board who have been arrested and imprisoned time and again, and after their last arrest, they were convicted to 64 months, and 5 years imprisonment respectively. Their charge was nothing but an attempt to celebrate Mayday.

The uninterrupted endeavors of the syndicate and other labour activists and workers’ organizations had the achievement of bringing many of our illegally-fired coworkers back to their jobs, but still five members of our syndicate have been fired for more than eight years and they were deprived of their civil social and economic rights and live under hard conditions. These members are as follows: Hassan Saeidi, Naser Moharam-zadeh, Hossein Karimi Sabzevar, Reza Shahabi and Ms. Farahnaz Shiri who was the first woman bus driver of VAHED Co.

What is more, in all cities across Iran, workers from manufacturing sector to the service and public sectors as well as in agriculture, and food companies, including Azar Ab, Hepco, National Steel Industries of Ahvaz, Haft-tapeh Sugarcane Co., Tabriz Combine factory,  Railroad Co, and other transportation companies, Oil manufacturing , and wood and paper industries etc. as well as the truck drivers (nationwide) and teachers (working and retired), and students have been facing threats, dismissal, arrests and imprisonment. Their concerns and activities have consisted of nothing more than trade union activities, peaceful protests for their legal and denied rights, or protest against the privatization and closing of factories, mass layoffs and the absence of any sort of job security, and the impoverishment of workers to the point where they cannot meet the most basic needs of their families.

As we have noted in our previous statements, and also highlighted by ITF’s recent statements, more than 200 truck drivers have been arrested and some of them are facing possible death sentences, just because of their recent strike for a minor improvements in their working and living conditions.  In addition, many students are facing long term convictions, some for their solidarity with the recent mass protests in Iran, and some for mere trade union protests for the conditions of dorms or privatization of education.

The suppressive and aggressive behaviours of state officials and their security forces in response to all kinds of legitimate and trade union protests or against independent workers’ organizations has become a routine and daily part of our lives.

Comrades and delegates at the ITF congress!

For a long time the government of Iran has tried to forge and force his pseudo organizations such as Islamic Labor Councils to our workers, and they are even introduced to ILO conferences and committees as the “workers'” representatives. Meanwhile all authentic and independent workers’ organizations have been facing systemic obstacles for their assemblies and legal activities. However, most recently, especially after the whistleblowing of our representatives, Reza Shahabi and Davood Razavi, during their trip to the Europe invited by the French trade union federations which included meetings with ITF officials, the Iranian government has waged a new war applying a new trickery to undermine our organization and other independent workers’ organizations. Our state and security officials, desperate that their direct suppression and imprisonment of our members have not been able to crush us, are applying a new anti-workers’ tactic and method to attack not only our Syndicate, but undermine other independent workers’ organization. By recruiting and supporting some former members of our syndicate, they are planning to create a pseudo syndicate which would follow their anti-workers’ agendas. We have published a statement warning workers and activists about this new method, and the text and documents proving our claim are available on our website.

Fortunately, the trick of forging fake and state-sponsored syndicates was rejected by the vast majority of workers and activists throughout Iran and in the international community, and we hope that this congress would respond accordingly and emphasize the necessity of workers’ organizations that are thoroughly independent from state, employers and security officials.

At the end, we would like to emphasize that as an affiliate of ITF, we have always enjoyed your sincere solidarity and are grateful for your uninterrupted support toward our common objectives. We are not present at this congress but we follow the course of this congress with utmost enthusiasm and we wish the best for all the comrades and the congress as a whole. The wars waged against our class are increasingly finding new dimensions, and facing the full attack of global capital against the working class, and with the austerity measures and warmongers, both locally and globally, we need the workers’ unity and solidarity throughout all countries more than ever.

Long live the working class solidarity

In solidarity and comradeship,

Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company
13th Oct 2018

Email: [email protected]