Iranian workers’ demands

From News from the struggles in Iran blog:

Message from 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 current 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 [$1010] 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

Iran, the media and the World Socialist Web Site: here.

Trade unionists and campaigners have protested outside the Iranian embassy in London in opposition to the Ahmadinejad government’s brutal treatment of union activists.

Iran and public opinion: here. Letters on Iran and the US media: here. McCain and Iran: here.

The Obama administration has responded to Iranian allegations of manipulating opposition protests inside the country with flat denials. However, there is considerable evidence of extensive US operations against Iran, spanning a range of diplomatic, intelligence and military activities: here.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s threat to arm the neighbors of Iran and target the country with nuclear missiles marks an escalation of US pressure on Tehran designed to influence the bitter internal struggle within the clerical regime: here.

The international communist movement slammed Tehran on Wednesday over its bloody post-election crackdown, while rejecting Western efforts to exploit the crisis as an excuse for “humanitarian intervention”: here.

13 thoughts on “Iranian workers’ demands


    Freedom Rider: Selective Sympathy for Iran

    By Margaret Kimberley

    Created 06/24/2009 – 07:17
    by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

    “Concerned human rights activists find themselves in a difficult situation. While they have justifiable concerns about the treatment of anti-government protesters, they must always keep in mind that warfare is the worst human rights abuse of all. The greatest risk to the Iranian people comes from the American president, who had already proclaimed that military action against Iran should not be ‘taken off the table.'”

    The United States reserves for itself the right to say what and when the world should be watching. “People who work for peace and justice must show skepticism when the media tell them who deserves their attention and advocacy efforts.” The world, as defined by U.S. Corporate media, turned its head when “1,400 Gazans were killed so that Israel might inflict collective punishment on a civilian population.” The U.S. Feigns great concern for the human rights of Iranians, but continues threaten a military attack. Real human rights proponents “must always keep in mind that warfare is the worst human rights abuse of all.”

    “There was no campaign to use Twitter as a tool to protest the killings and defend the Gazans right to live.”

    The scenes of Iranians protesting in the hundreds of thousands speak to the hearts of people all over the world. Anyone who fights for democracy has to applaud when people in any nation band together to make demands on their political system.

    Yet Americans must always be cognizant of the outright lies and manipulations that may cause them to act in error, even if they do so with good intentions. The potential pitfalls in reacting to Iran’s current political crisis are many and demand close attention.

    The corporate media behave in a fashion that requires us to question everything they present to us as fact. People who work for peace and justice must show skepticism when the media tell them who deserves their attention and advocacy efforts. They are quite selective when they decide who deserves our sympathy.

    In December 2008 Israel began what can only be described as a massacre in Gaza. More than 1,400 Gazans were killed so that Israel might inflict collective punishment on a civilian population, a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions. They were not even allowed to flee and save their lives, instead even hospitals and ambulances were targets in Israel’s efforts to kill as many Gazans as possible.

    “The corporate media are quite selective when they decide who deserves our sympathy.”

    Just as they prevented civilians from fleeing, the Israeli government did not permit the world’s news organizations to enter Gaza. The American media conducted incomplete coverage of the crisis without even pointing out that the Israeli government prevented them from doing their jobs. They didn’t exhort their readers and viewers to remind Israel that “the world is watching” them. There was no campaign to use Twitter as a tool to protest the killings and defend the Gazans right to live.

    The United States Congress did not pass resolutions condemning the Israeli government. Neither Democrats nor Republicans exhorted then president elect Obama to speak out on behalf of the Gazans. Editorial pages did not criticize his silence and tacit approval of a truly horrific human rights violation.Israeli jet

    In contrast, congress rushed to condemn the Iranian government, allegedly on behalf of the Iranian people. Their hypocrisy is breath taking. During the presidential campaign, Senator John McCain composed his only little ditty, “Bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran” in a horrendous disregard for human life. Now he attacks Obama for not speaking out against the government of Iran.

    “The U.S. Congress’s hypocrisy is breath taking.”

    Throughout 2006 and 2007 both houses of Congress passed resolutions which condemned Iran as a terrorist state and were meant to begin the process of authorizing war. Many of these same house members now claim to care, by a 405 to 1 vote margin, about the people they previously had been willing to kill.

    If Iran’s leaders are demonized enough, the call to war will become louder and more acceptable. “Progressive” Obamite cult worshippers never speak against the president, whether he is hiding proof of American torture, killing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, promoting indefinite detention without trial, turning his back on black farmers and historically black colleges, cutting medicaid and medicare, or turning over the public treasury to bankster thieves. There is little reason to believe they will behave any differently if their idol tells us that bombs must fall.

    “The greatest risk to the Iranian people comes from the American president.”

    Concerned human rights activists find themselves in a difficult situation. While they have justifiable concerns about the treatment of anti-government protesters, they must always keep in mind that warfare is the worst human rights abuse of all. The greatest risk to the Iranian people comes from the American president, who had already proclaimed that military action against Iran should not be “taken off the table.”

    The media in this country always obey the rulers. They back who the government backs or attack whomever the government attacks. That is why we are never told about the lack of democracy among America’s allies in the Middle East. We are not told that the great “reformer” Mir Hossein Mousavi, is as dependent on the favors of Iran’s religious leaders as is his rival, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This reformer was a top lieutenant of Ayatollah Khomeini, a man Americans are still told to hate, and he led purges against leftists in the 1980s. The complexities of Iranian politics are given short shrift and lies about hardliners versus reformers are repeated as truth.

    So “tweet” away if you like, but not because the congress or the media tell you to. Tweet for the 100 Afghans who were killed by American bombs last month. Tell Barack Obama that the world is watching him.

    Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.


  2. Iran footballers ‘not punished’

    Switzerland: The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has reported that the Iranian Football Federation denies reports that national team players were punished for wearing green wristbands in solidarity with the political opposition during a World Cup qualifier.

    FIFA said it received a letter from the Iranian federation “which stated that no disciplinary action has been imposed on any players of the Iran national team by any authority.”


  3. Uri Avnery

    Between Tel Aviv and Teheran

    HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Iranian citizens pour into the streets in order to protest against their government! What a wonderful sight! Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz that he envies the Iranians.

    And indeed, anyone who tries these days to get Israelis in any numbers into the streets could die of envy. It is very difficult to get even hundreds of people to protest against the evil deeds or policies of our government – and not because everybody supports it. At the height of the war against Gaza, half a year ago, it was not easy to mobilize ten thousand protesters. Only once a year does the peace camp succeed in bringing a hundred thousand people to the square – and then only to commemorate the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

    The atmosphere in Israel is a mixture of indifference, fatigue and a “loss of the belief in the ability to change reality”, as a Supreme Court justice put it this week. A very dramatic change is needed in order to get masses of people to demonstrate for peace.

    FOR MIR-HOSSEIN MOUSAVI hundreds of thousands have demonstrated, and hundreds of thousands have demonstrated for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That says something about the people and about the regime.

    Can anyone imagine a hundred thousand people gathering in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against the official election results? The police would open fire before a thousand had assembled there.

    Would even a thousand people be allowed to demonstrate in Amman against His Majesty? The very idea is absurd.

    Some years ago, the Saudi security forces in Mecca opened fire on unruly pilgrims. In Saudi Arabia, there are never protests against election results – simply because there are no elections.

    In Iran, however, there are elections, and how! They are more frequent than elections in the US, and Iranian presidents change more often than American ones. Indeed, the very protests and riots show how seriously the citizens there treat election results.

    OF COURSE, the Iranian regime is not democratic in the way we understand democracy. There is a Supreme Guide who fixes the rules of the game. Religious bodies rule out candidates they do not like. Parliament cannot adopt laws that contradict religious law. And the laws of God are unchangeable – at most, their interpretation can change.

    All this is not entirely foreign to Israelis. From the very beginning the religious camp has been trying to turn Israel into a religious state, in which religious law (called Halakha) would be above the civil law. Laws “revealed” thousands of years ago and regarded as unchangeable would take precedence over laws enacted by the democratically elected Knesset.

    To understand Iran, we have only to look at one of the important Israeli parties: Shas. They, too, have a Supreme Guide, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who decides everything. He appoints the party leadership, he selects the party’s Knesset candidates, he directs the party faction how to vote on every single issue. There are no elections in Shas. And in comparison with the frequent outbursts of Rabbi Ovadia, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a model of moderation.

    ELECTIONS DIFFER from country to country. It is very difficult to compare the fairness of elections in one country with those in another.

    At one end of the scale were the elections in the good old Soviet Union. There it was joked that a voter entered the ballot room, received a closed envelope from an official and was politely requested to put it into the ballot box.

    “What, can’t I know who I am voting for?” the voter demanded.

    The official was shocked. “Of course not! In the Soviet Union we have secret elections!”

    At the other end of the scale there should stand that bastion of democracy, the USA. But in elections there, only nine years ago, the results were decided by the Supreme Court. The losers, who had voted for Al Gore, are convinced to this very day that the results were fraudulent.

    In Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and now, apparently, also in Egypt, rule is passed from father to son or from brother to brother. A family affair.

    Our own elections are clean, more or less, even if after every election people claim that in the Orthodox Jewish quarters the dead also voted. Three and a half million inhabitants of the occupied Palestinian territories also held democratic elections in 2006, which former President Jimmy Carter described as exemplary, but Israel, the US and Europe refused to accept the results, because they did not like them.

    So it seems that democracy is a matter of geography.

    WERE THE election results in Iran falsified? Practically no one of us – in Tel Aviv, Washington or London – can know. We have no idea, because none of us – and that includes the chiefs of all intelligence agencies – really knows what is happening in that country. We can only try to apply our common sense, based on the little information we have.

    Clearly, hundreds of thousands of voters honestly believe that the results were faked. Otherwise, they would not have taken to the streets. But this is a quite normal among losers. During the intoxication of an election campaign, every party believes that it is about to win. When this does not happen, it is quite sure that the results are forged.

    Some time ago, Germany’s excellent 3Sat television channel broadcast an arresting report about Tehran. The crew drove through the main street from the North of the city to the South, stopping frequently along the way, entering people’s homes, visiting mosques and nightclubs.

    I learned that Tehran is largely similar to Tel Aviv at least in one respect: in the North there reside the rich and the well-to-do, in the South the poor and underprivileged. The Northerners imitate the US, go to prestigious universities and dance in the clubs. The women are liberated. The Southerners stick to tradition, revere the ayatollahs or the rabbis, and detest the shameless and corrupt North.

    Mousavi is the candidate of the North, Ahmadinejad of the South. The villages and small towns – which we call the “periphery” – identify with the south and are alienated from the north.

    In Tel Aviv, the South voted for Likud, Shas and the other right-wing parties. The North voted for Labor and Kadima. In our elections, a few months ago, the Right thus won a resounding victory.

    It seems that something very similar happened in Iran. It is reasonable to assume that Ahmadinejad genuinely won.

    The sole Western outfit that conducted a serious public opinion poll in Iran prior to the elections came up with figures that proved very close to the official results. It is hard to imagine huge forgeries, concerning many millions of votes, when thousands of polling station personnel are involved. In other words: it is entirely plausible that Ahmadinejad really won. If there were forgeries – and there is no reason to believe that there were not – they probably did not reach proportions that could sway the end result.

    There is a simple test for the success of a revolution: has the revolutionary spirit penetrated the army? Since the French Revolution, no revolution has succeeded when the army was steadfast in support of the existing regime. Both the 1917 February and October revolutions in Russia succeeded because the army was in a state of dissolution. In 1918, much the same happened in Germany. Mussolini and Hitler took great pains not to challenge the army, and came to power with its support.

    In many revolutions, the decisive moment arrives when the crowds in the street confront the soldiers and policemen, and the question arises: will they open fire on their own people? When the soldiers refuse, the revolution wins. When they shoot, that is the end of the matter.

    When Boris Yeltsin climbed on the tank, the solders refused to shoot and he won. The Berlin wall fell because one East-German police officer refused at the decisive moment to give the order to open fire. In Iran, Khomeini won when, in the final test, the soldiers of the Shah refused to shoot. That did not happen this time. The security forces were ready to shoot. They were not infected by the revolutionary spirit. The way it looks now, that was the end of the affair.

    I AM not an admirer of Ahmadinejad. Mousavi appeals to me much more.

    I do not like leaders who are in direct contact with God, who make speeches to the masses from a balcony, who use demagogic and provocative language, who ride on the waves of hatred and fear. His denial of the holocaust – an idiotic exercise in itself – only adds to Ahmadinejad’s image as a primitive or cynical leader.

    No doubt, he is a sworn enemy of the state of Israel or – as he prefers to call it – the “Zionist regime”. Even if he did not promise to wipe it out himself, as erroneously reported, but only expressed his belief that it would “disappear from the map”, this does not set my mind at rest.

    It is an open question whether Mousavi, if elected, would have made a difference as far as we are concerned. Would Iran have abandoned its efforts to produce nuclear weapons? Would it have reduced its support of the Palestinian resistance? The answer is negative.

    It is an open secret that our leaders hoped that Ahmadinejad would win, exacerbate the hatred of the Western world against himself and make reconciliation with America more difficult.

    All through the crisis, Barack Obama has behaved with admirable restraint. American and Western public opinion, as well as the supporters of the Israeli government, called upon him to raise his voice, identify with the protesters, wear a green tie in their honor, condemn the Ayatollahs and Ahmadinejad in no uncertain terms. But except for minimal criticism, he did not do so, displaying both wisdom and political courage.

    Iran is what it is. The US must negotiate with it, for its own sake and for our sake, too. Only this way – if at all – is it possible to prevent or hold up its development of nuclear weapons. And if we are condemned to live under the shadow of an Iranian nuclear bomb, in a classic situation of a balance of terror, it would be better if the bomb were in the hands of an Iranian leadership that keeps up a dialogue with the American president. And of course, it would be good for us if – before reaching that point – we could achieve, with the friendly support of Obama, full peace with the Palestinian people, thus removing the main justification for Iran’s hostility towards Israel.

    The revolt of the Northerners in Iran will remain, so it seems, a passing episode. It may, hopefully, have an impact in the long run, beneath the surface. But in the meantime, it makes no sense to deny the victory of the Iranian denier.


  4. Iranian and Sudanese communists on Iran protests: `A deeply genuine
    struggle for democracy’

    Joint statement by the Sudanese Communist Party and the Tudeh Party of Iran
    Recently, representatives of the central committees of the Tudeh Party
    of Iran and the Sudanese Communist Party exchanged views and consulted
    on the political situation unfolding in Iran, in light of the rigged
    elections of June 12 and the mass protests that quickly took place and
    began to gain momentum shortly thereafter. The two parties discussed the
    political situation in their respective countries and the conditions in
    which the struggle for peace, human rights, democracy and social justice
    is taking place. Based on their discussion and deliberations the
    leaderships of the two fraternal parties hereby issue the following
    The existing electoral process in Iran is a mockery of democracy,
    designed to disenfranchise the Iranian electorate. Its entire se- up is
    not related to the pursuit and furthering of democracy or any concept of
    progress within Iranian society but to keep the reins of power firmly in
    the hands of the despotic theocratic regime regardless of the wishes and
    aspirations of the Iranian people. Despite using every method to
    orientate the electoral process in their favour, the ruling guard of the
    theocracy still sought fit to directly rig the outcome of the ballots
    cast on the day of the election.

    * Read more


  5. Selling Iran: Ahmadinejad, privatisation and a bus driver who said

    By Billy Wharton
    June 26, 2009 — A creeping assumption lies just beneath the surface of
    arguments concerning the disputed election in Iran. Incumbent Mahmoud
    Ahmadinejad is cast as an anti-US populist crusader resisting the
    materialistic advances of the West. His opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi,
    as his foil – a Western-backed liberal intent on implementing
    free-market policies. Violent street battles have been presented as a
    reinforcement of the Western disposition to see the two idealised
    positions as the limit of what is politically imaginable. Such arguments
    conveniently avoid a third force – the people of Iran, whose street
    politics threaten to move well beyond the confines of the electoral
    campaigns. Questions remain. Is Ahmadinejad really a populist – the only
    force preventing a wave of pro-market policies in Iran? Does Mousavi’s
    campaign mark the limits of the reform movement?

    * Read more

    Iranian workers in action for democratic rights

    Introduction by Robert Johnson and John Riddell
    June 29, 2009 — The mass protests in Iran, sparked by charges of fraud
    in the June 12 presidential elections, express deeply felt demands for
    expanded democratic rights. The establishment press has been silent on
    the aspirations of rank-and-file protesters. Socialist Voice is
    therefore pleased to be able to publish several statements by components
    of Iran’s vigorous trade union movement, which has been a major target
    of repression by Iran’s security forces. We have provided the titles and
    some introductory comments.

    * Read more

    Iran: (Video) Not a Twitter revolution, not a CIA revolution

    By Reese Erlich

    June 26, 2009 — Iran is not undergoing a “Twitter Revolution”. The
    term simultaneously mischaracterizes and trivialises the important mass
    movement developing in Iran. Here’s how it all began. The Iranian
    government prohibited foreign reporters from traveling outside Tehran
    without special permission, and later confined them to their hotel rooms
    and offices. CNN and other cable networks were particularly desperate to
    find ways to show the large demonstrations and government repression. So
    they turned to internet sites such as Facebook and Twitter in a frantic
    effort to get information. Since reporters were getting most of their
    information from Tweets and You Tube video clips, the notion of a
    “Twitter Revolution” was born.
    We reporters love a catch phrase and, Twitter being all a flutter in the
    West, it seemed to fit. It’s a catchy phrase but highly misleading.

    * Read more



    Statement of Independent Union of Print Shop Workers of Tehran to July 25 International Day of Solidarity Rallies
    The Independent Union of Print Shop Workers of Tehran and its Environs

    “Let us hope that foreign governments do not try to take advantage of Iran’s internal problems for their own selfish goals. Let us hope that the ongoing situation continues to discredit and expose the true intentions of Ahmadinejad and his backers to the world until they are tried in their country for their crimes against the Iranian people. And let us hope that through international solidarity that day is closer at hand.”

    July 25, 2009
    In the Name of the Creator
    Brothers and Sisters:

    On the occasion of Iran Solidarity Day, we men and women members of the Independent Union of Printshop Workers of Tehran (IUPWT), would like to extend to you, halfway across the globe, our deep appreciation for your support and solidarity with our cause.

    After an initial period of confusion and self-doubt, the dictatorship has regained its confidence and is determined to crush our country’s young democratic movement and arrest or eliminate its leader, Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

    Our union, IUPWT, is centered on a number of large and mostly state- or semi-state-owned enterprises accounting for the bulk of the books and print media published in the capitol. Because of the harsh police conditions imposed against labor organizing, our union activists and the workers who support us have to operate under the constant threat of arrest, imprisonment in solitary conditions, physical and mental abuse, and dismissal from work. At the time of rising unemployment, the least of these measures, dismissal from work, could have devastating effect on our workers and their families. These are illegal acts that are even against the Iranian regime’s own constitution, not to mention all the international covenants to which the Iranian government is a signatory.

    As you all well know, the courage of our people, especially its young, has permanently transformed Iran into a new country. There is mass repression going on against our people but the dictatorship has lost its aura of invincibility and its mystique of superior other-worldly power. And for the first time in more than a generation, there is hope again in the country. You could see it in the faces of the old and the young. It is hope for a new beginning, hope for democracy and hope for a life without tyranny. Further, the success of the Green Wave movement in Iran could be an inspiration for millions of people in the other countries of the Muslim world. They could see that they could build grass-roots democracy with their own hands and without any supposedly benevolent foreign hand aiding and abetting them. The Green Wave movement is democratic, it is non-violent and it is independent.

    Dear friends, at this point, allow us to speak freely to you. There are some dangerous misconceptions about the democratic movement in Iran that must be addressed urgently:

    One of these misconceptions is that the Green Wave movement is a rich man’s movement, whereas Mahmood Ahmadinejad’s government is a pro-working class and pro-poor people’s movement headed by a humble man of the people. This is a gross and blatant lie. Our movement is supported by millions of the poor and the working people. Ahmadinejad is a demagogue who has surrounded himself with ex-Revolutionary Guards, present-day multi-millionaires who care absolutely nothing for the poor.

    If he is pro-working class, why did he want to end 70% of all subsidies last year? Why did he change the labor law against the workers’ interests? Why does he systematically arrest, imprison and torture labor activists? This is an insult to the working people of Iran that they support a petty dictator because he has bought them off by cash hand-outs and free footstuff at election time.

    Ahmadinejad is as much a progressive man of the people as Mussolini was pro-working class and anti-capitalist. Further, as Reformist leaders have acknowledged, without support from the Iranian working class, this regime will not give an inch to our just demands. After all it was only after workers — especially the oil workers — went on strike 30 years ago that the Shah of Iran had to leave the country.

    We suspect that this myth is bought by those in the worldwide progressive movement that automatically assume anybody who stands up or pretends to stand up to the American Empire must be a noble nationalist. To these friends, we must say that anti-Americanism is just a fig leaf for the most reactionary and obscurantist forces in Iran who need it to hide their deeds, namely, their incompetence, their theft of national property and their repression against their own people and their personal enrichment in the name of religion. If Mr. Khamenei has benefited the progressive anti-Imperialist cause anywhere, it has been out of opportunism and nothing else!

    Let us hope that foreign governments do not try to take advantage of Iran’s internal problems for their own selfish goals. Let us hope that the ongoing situation continues to discredit and expose the true intentions of Ahmadinejad and his backers to the world until they are tried in their country for their crimes against the Iranian people. And let us hope that through international solidarity that day is closer at hand.

    The Independent Union of Print Shop Workers of Tehran and its Environs

    :: Article nr. 56372 sent on 26-jul-2009 07:26 ECT


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