posted April 25, 2001 00:52
Campaign for Defence of Workers’ Rights
Today there is no one who is not aware of what the people in Iran have suffered under the rule of the Islamic Republic in Iran in the past 22 years. There is no one who is not aware of the indescribable cruelty towards political prisoners, the torture and execution, the lack of rights for women, and the impoverishment that the people in Iran have been subjected to.
During the 22-year rule of the Islamic regime, workers’ protests have been crushed and labour activists sacked, jailed or executed.
The Islamic Republic and its Constitution do not recognise the internationally recognised rights to organisation, strike and collective bargaining. Taking strike action is a crime and their organisers are persecuted.
Labour leaders’ efforts to organise workers are considered crimes and met with imprisonment and sacking. The most recent example of such suppression is the imprisonment of Mahmood Salehi, President of the Bakers’ Union in the city of Saqez who was arrested for the fifth time on August 28, 2000 for his efforts in organising workers and defending their rights. Despite international protests against his detention, he has not yet been released.
During the Islamic Republic’s rule, over 100,000 have been executed for expressing their opinion, being members of opposition parties or for taking part in protest meetings. Hundreds of thousands have been sentenced to long-term imprisonment and torture.
Under such lack of rights, the Islamic Republic has enforced harsh economic misery on the working class and the great majority of people in Iran. Millions are unemployed, without any unemployment benefits. Mass redundancies are continuing.
Nearly one million workers in the public and private sectors have not received their wages from several months up to two years. There are currently wide-scale protests taking place in Iran, demanding the immediate payment of all overdue wages.
The wages, in real terms, have decreased considerably and according to official state statistics, 70% of people in Iran live under the poverty line. According to the government’s own statistics, the minimum wage is at 1/4 to 1/3 of the poverty line.
Despite the repression, mass strikes and extensive struggles are taking place by workers’ leaders to organise workers.
In solidarity with these struggles and in defence of workers’ rights in Iran, we urge labour and human rights organisations and all those concerned about workers’ and human rights to support the following resolution.
The resolution lists some of the main demands of workers in Iran. Our aim is to gather the support of as many local, national and international workers’ and human rights organisations, and make this resolution a well-recognised, important and international document in defence of the rights of workers in Iran.
We call on you to support this resolution and urge other organisations and parties to do the same in solidarity with the rising workers’ movement in Iran, and in solidarity with labour leaders and activists who organise thousands of strikes and protest actions every year to achieve these rights under the harsh atmosphere of terror, sacking, redundancies and imprisonment.
The support of this resolution by labour and human rights organisations on an international scale will be an effective factor in promoting workers’ unity in Iran and giving labour activists a free hand in organising workers – something that will in turn strengthen the general popular movement against lack of rights and economic privation.
To date, international support by labour and human rights organisations has been a major moral boost to workers in Iran, and they continue to rely on such support.
Coordinator of the International Campaign for Defence of Workers’ Rights in Iran
Asqar Karimi is a member of the WPI’s Executive Committee and Political Bureau.