To: Labour and Progressive Organizations and concerned individuals
Re: Urgent Action Requested on International Appeal in Defence of Workers’ Rights in Iran
The Iranian working class is deprived of numerous internationally recognized human rights and labour standards including the rights to organize freely and strike. The only formal organizations that claim to be representing workers in Iran are mainly suppressive tools of the regime such as the government-sponsored “Workers’ House”, “ Islamic Labour Councils” and also the recently formed “guild associations”, for instance the Association of Iranian Journalists and the Association of Truck Drivers that are basically instruments at the hands of the Islamic Cooperation Front that retains the control of the Ministry of Labour and a number of other ministries as well as the Islamic Consultative Assembly (parliament). These groups should not be allowed to attend labour conventions or any international conferences on behalf of workers in Iran. We are alarmed that the ILO’s current rounds of collaborations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, its Ministry of Labour and these so called “labour arms” could possibly lead to a total disregard of the ongoing struggles of Iranian workers to establish their own free labour organizations and to achieve the right to strike.
We are calling on all free organizations of workers globally, from national labour organizations to international bodies like the ICFTU and Global Unions federations, to play an active role in supporting Iranian workers’ efforts to organize themselves into genuine and democratic labour organizations. This can be done through taking various measures, such as adopting and acting on the attached resolution, pressuring Iranian government, advocating with the ILO to cease its association with the above government-sponsored “labour” groups, etc. However, we think one concrete way of getting involved is to build bridges with Iranian workers directly and support them in their struggles against employers’ and government’s attacks and for the right to organize freely. The attached resolution is demanding a direct observation by world’s labour organizations in such a process.
This appeal also addresses the neo-liberal agenda of privatizations, lay offs, contracting out, outsourcing, deregulations, and non-payment of wages, etc., which continues in full force in Iran. This is a regime that for the past 24 years has imposed the most unbearable political, economic, legal and social conditions on the Iranian working class and deprived masses including women, immigrant workers, youth, children and seniors. Almost 70 percent of Iran’s population now lives in an absolute poverty. The IRI’s recent waves of attacks on workers’ rights, including the exemption of workshops of 5 and 10 employees or less from the minimal rights stipulated in the labour law and the withholding of wages to more than one million workers, etc., have severely worsened the working and living conditions of millions of working families in Iran. Parallel to all these economic and political offensives by the government and capitalists, the security and intelligent forces have relentlessly been repressing workers’ fightbacks, protests and walkouts. All employers’ groups, government’s apparatus and various parliamentary factions of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the government of Khatami and its Ministry of Labour are supporting and aggressively engaged in implementing this anti-worker neo-liberal direction.
The attached appeal has thus far received support from a considerable number of labour, social and political organizations and concerned individuals, including the Canadian Labour Congress, representing 2.5 million unionized workers, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees-Ontario as well as internationally known progressive figures like Noam Chomsky and István Mészáros.
The final list will be sent to the ICFTU, Global Unions Federations, their affiliates and other international labour organizations as well as the ILO, particularly the ILO’s workers’ group, by the second half of March 2003.
Please support this campaign in any ways you possibly can. If you have any questions or require more information, please contact us at the address below. Thank you for your support.