ACT NOW: back Iranian workers' struggle for rights

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Solidarity with Iranian workers

Amnesty campaign

June 2011

The TUC is joining with Amnesty International and global union federations to support a new campaign for Iranian workers' rights. Visit the website, order and send the campaign postcards, and take the email action at http://www.amnesty.org.uk/iranbusworkers. You can order materials at activism@amnesty.org.uk

The TUC has been campaigning for Justice for Iranian Workers for some time with Amnesty International and global union federations like the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), the International Union of Food Workers (IUF) and Education International (EI). TUC affiliates have been involved in campaigns of solidarity with workers in their sector in Iran, and also for human and trade union rights generally.

Iranian workers are struggling for better terms and conditions (sometimes wages are not paid at all for weeks or months) and against arbitrary management punishment and dismissals. And they do all this without the free trade unions we take for granted. In Iran, workers are supposed to join state-run organisations like the Islamic Labour Councils or Workers' House. Free trade unionism is banned, and where it occurs, its leaders and activists are harassed, arrested and violently assaulted.

Trade union heroes

Earlier this month, the campaign won a significant victory when Mansour Osanloo, leader of the Tehran bus workers, was freed after nearly four years in jail - although he could be returned to jail at any time. And two of his colleagues remain in jail:

  • Reza Shahabi, the Treasurer of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) remains detained in Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran. On 25 May 2011, his trial on charges of 'propaganda against the system' and 'gathering and colluding against state security' concluded before a branch of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran.
  • Ebrahim Maddadi, Deputy Head of the Union, is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for 'acts against national security', which is due to end around September 2011. Another activist in the union, Gholamreza Gholamhosseini, has been released on bail but is facing charges.

In addition, Rasoul Bodaghi, a member of the Iran Teachers' Trade Association, was arrested in September 2009 and sentenced to six years in jail for 'propaganda against the system' and 'gathering and colluding with intent to disturb national security'. Recent reports suggest he has been severely beaten in prison.

Campaign for trade union rights

Now Amnesty International has launched a major campaign for dignity for Iranian workers. They are calling for:

  • The immediate and unconditional release of Reza Shahabi, Ebrahaim Maddadi and Rasoul Bodaghi (all Amnesty Prisoners of Conscience);
  • Protection of all trade unionists in prison from torture, violence or harassment;
  • Legalising the freedom to join a union and recognition of free trade unions; and
  • An end to victimisation and harassment of trade unionists.

The TUC of course strongly supports this campaign, and urges unions and activists to:

  • Spread the word using the materials produced by Amnesty International and Justice for Iranian Workers;
  • Order the campaign postcards for distribution among fellow trade unionists;
  • Email and write to the Iranian judiciary and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs:

Dr Abdolreza Sheikholeslami

Minister of Labour and Social Affairs

Azadi Avenue, near to Behboudi Avenue

Tehran

Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@mlsa.ir (write 'For the attention of Minister of Labour and Social Affairs' in the subject line)

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