Iran: What the Workers are Saying
WHAT is happening in Iran is bigger than any rivalry between bourgeois politicians and clerics, and deeper than any meddling by outside forces. The workers, the women, and the students confronting government thugs and police are participating in an explosion of pent up anger, not just over an election that was rigged from the start, but over a regime of imposed backwardness on the forces of modern progress. Whatever happens in the immediate future, this revolt will not disappear.
Apt comparisons have been made with the revolution that brought down the Shah. That revolution was usurped by the Ayatollahs who stepped in and established the Islamic regime. That is why people coming out now are determined to write their own script.
What is the Iranian workers' movement saying? Here are two statements picked up by left-wing Iranian exiles here. The first is a message from the Iranian Workers Free Trade Union
23 June 2009
Forty-eight days have passed since the suppression and arrest of workers’ gathering on International Labour Day - May Day. During this time our country has witnessed important events and we witness widespread and amazing changes in the social movement.
During their televised debates the presidential candidates repeatedly accused each other of violating citizens’ rights, embezzlement, theft, mismanagement, and incompetence. But none of them had any objection to the laws that have allowed the disastrous events affecting the majority of the population. None of them had any objection to legislation that takes away a worker’s right to strike, sets his wages at a quarter of what is the government's poverty line, takes away the workers right to set up their own organisations, allows mass lay-offs, forces workers to sign blank contracts a one-month temporary contract .
The presidential candidates failed to take up issues regarding freedom of speech, the right to choose one's dress , and hundreds of other inhuman laws that today govern our society. When they raise any issue it was in a superficial way, every one of them attempted to clear himself and accuse the others, as if his opponent had been more strict than himself. In all those debates, clearly and in confronting each other, the candidates themselves proved that they accept all the currentt laws and conditions and that their only quarrel is on who should be in power.
Therefore, we workers, under the present conditions, when social protests have taken the form of a mass and a huge movement has come on the scene to achieve its demands, see it as our right to put forward the demands of fellow workers and to raise our banner. These demands are as follows:
1.Immediate increase in the minimum wage to over 1 million tomans (900 pounds) a month.
2. An end to temporary contracts and new forms of work contracts.
3. The disbanding of the Labour House and the Islamic Labour Councils as government organisations in the factories and workshops, and the setting up of shoras [councils] and other workers’ organisations independent from the government.
4. Immediate payment of workers’ unpaid wages without any excuses.
5. An end to laying-off workers and payment of adequate unemployment insurance to all unemployed workers.
6. The immediate release of all political prisoners including the workers arrested on May Day, Jafar Azimzadeh, Gholamreza Khani, Said Yuzi, Said Rostami, Mehdi Farahi-Shandiz, Kaveh Mozafari, Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi, and an end to surveillance and harassment of workers and labour leaders.
7. The right to strike, protest, assemble and the freedom of speech and the press are the workers’ absolute right.
8. An end to sexual discrimination, child labour and the sacking of foreign workers.
Workers! Today we have a duty to intervene, to pose our demands independently and by relying on our own united strength, together with other sections of society, to work towards achieving our human rights.
The Free Trade Union of Iranian Workers
The Syndicate of Vahed Bus workers issued this statement on the 19th of June 2009.
“In recent days, we continue witnessing the magnificent demonstration of millions of people from all ages, genders, and national and religious minorities in Iran. They request that their basic human rights, particularly the right to freedom and to choose independently and without deception be recognized. These rights are not only constitutional in most of the countries, but also have been protected against all odds.
Amid such turmoil, one witnesses threats, arrests, murders and brutal suppression that one fears only to escalate on all its aspects, resulting in more innocent bloodshed, more protests, and certainly no retreats. Iranian society is facing a deep political-economical crisis. Million-strong silent protests, ironically loud with un-spoken words, have turned into iconic stature and are expanding from all sides. These protests demand reaction from each and every responsible individual and institution.
As previously expressed in a statement published on-line in May of this year, since the Vahead Syndicate does not view any of the candidates support the activities of the workers’ organisations in Iran, it would not endorse any presidential candidate in the election. Vahed members nevertheless have the right to participate or not to participate in the elections and vote for their individually selected candidate.
Moreover, the fact remains that demands of almost an absolute majority of the Iranians go far beyond the demands of a particular group. In the past, we have emphasized that until the freedom of choice and right to organize are not recognized, talk of any social or particular right would be more of a mockery than a reality.
The Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company fully supports this movement of Iranian people to build a free and independent civil society and condemns any violence and oppression. “
Thanks to Yassamine Mather of Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI) for passing on these messages. HOPI stands with the people of Iran against the Islamicist regime, and against imperialist intervention and war.
To find out more and contact HOPI, visit the website,