Iranian workers are not alone!

The action today, called initially by four global union organisations representing over 170 million workers, is part of an ongoing campaign that will eventually help Iranian workers win their full trade union and human rights.

The action today, called initially by the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation), EI (Education International), ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation), IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations), four global union organisations representing over 170 million workers, is part of an ongoing campaign that will eventually help Iranian workers win their full trade union and human rights. Such solidarity action must continue until Iranian workers have gained all these basic rights.

Following the rigged election many other peaceful protesters have also been imprisoned. On 18 June two shifts at Iran Khodro stopped work in protest at the treatment of demonstrators. The Vahed bus drivers said that they want June 26 to be turned into a day of action for human rights in Iran. This clearly shows that the workers see that their struggle for labour and trade union rights is joined up with the general struggle for human rights and democracy.

Eight weeks ago, on May Day, Iranian workers took a step that was unprecedented in the past 28 years. They managed to put aside all their divisions and differences. Nine trade unions and workers organisations (Trade Union of the Workers of the Vahed Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company Workers’ Trade Union, Free Trade Union of Iranian Workers, Founding Committee for Re-launching the Trade Union of Building, Painting and Decoration Workers, the Labour Rights Association, Co-operation Council of Labour Organisations and Activists Co-ordination Committee for the Formation of Labour Organisations, Pursuit Committee for the Formation of Free Labour Organisations and a group of Labour Activists), together with the Women’s Council, formed a joint May Day Organising Committee.

The Iranian regime recognised this as a danger to itself. It arrested over 150 workers and labour and human rights activists who had gathered in a Tehran park to commemorate International Labour Day. The activists had not even begun their ceremony before they were beaten, bundled into vans and taken away. The swoop by the security forces was so frenzied that they even beat up women and children and arrested many who just happened to be in Laleh Park at the time! Although this outrage provoked an outcry from the international labour movement, it was, sadly, just another chapter in the long history of abuse and persecution of the labour movement - and the movements of students, women, the youth, national minorities and so on - for their basic rights and dignity.

While trade union and human rights activists and socialists in many countries knew about the true nature of the Iranian government, the events of the past two weeks have totally exposed its brutality to a much wider public. All over the world everyone, from the workers to students and youth, now knows that the Iranian regime is one of the most undemocratic in the world. Not only does it trample on every basic rights of the mass of the Iranian people, it also cannot observe the democratic rights of its own weaker faction! The members of this faction, including some former ministers and high officials of the regime, have been arrested in the middle of the night without any warrant or identification of the detaining officers, had their house searched, their family harassed and then not heard of for days. Even though the ex-ministers’ treatment in jail will be much more mild, their illegal arrests have highlighted the every day repressive methods that confront workers, women, students, teachers, journalists, writers and artists, national minorities, human rights and civil activists (and anyone else who might want to question any aspect of social life under this regime and want to improve it).

The Iranian regime has been gradually releasing the May Day detainees. Just two are now believed to be still in jail: Mehdi Farahi Shandiz and Said Rostami. But Iran’s jails hold many other workers: Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Madadi, Farzad Kamangar, Salam Ghaderi and many others. Recently five leaders of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company Workers’ Trade Union were sentenced to a year in prison. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all jailed trade unionists and labour activists in Iran.

Free all jailed workers now!
The right to strike is an absolute right!

Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network
26 June 2009