Not satisfied with the terrible economic burden and lack of rights that it has imposed on Iranian workers for three decades Iran's pro-business regime is preparing for the first part of a major wave of privatisation.
With over 70 per cent of industry in state hands there are going to be rich pickings for many a mollah's son. All that the ad hoc privatisation of the past few years achieved was that the families of the elite ended up with bargains undreamt of by the Shah's entourage! Whether it is this or that family that makes a fortune this time, one thing is certain: the workers will definitely pay for it. Already there have been complaints in the press about at least one case where a factory has been priced below the value of the land it is built on!
Ayatollah Khamenei's re-interpretation of Article 44 of the Constitution last year removed all obstacles to privatising the major sectors of the economy (except for the upstream oil industry). The recent intervention of the Expediency Council was aimed at resolving a number of differences between the majles (Parliament) and the Guardian Council on some details of the privatisation plan.
The first tranche of shares that are going to be "turned over" - as the regime calls it - will be 5.2% of the Islamic Republic Shipping Company on 15 May. This will be followed by 5% of the following: Esfahan's refinery, Iran Communications, Bank-e Mellat, Bank-e Saderat and Iran Copper National. The percentages of shares for Khorasan steel and Khuzestan Steel have not been finalised.
With at least 15 million people below the poverty line, unemployment at 20-30%, inflation over 21%, unpaid wages a part of everyday life for millions of workers, Labour Code amendments (i.e., dilutions) being discussed openly, and the constant negative comments on subsidies in the media, the Iranian workers' movement is heading for a defining year.
Help Iranian Workers Solidarity Network (IWSN) in its activities aimed at defending the struggles of workers for basic rights like the right to strike, the right to form a trade union and getting paid for their work. Raise the issue of Iranian workers' struggles and affiliation to IWSN in your trade union or CLP branch and send protest emails and solidarity messages during our campaigns.